K charity Oxfam says increases in aid from the
world's richest countries are not enough to meet promises they made
at the Gleneagles G8 meeting last year.
The claim comes as G8 finance ministers meet in
It was at the same pre-summit meeting last year
that the decision to extend debt cancellation to more countries,
including Nigeria, was made.
Oxfam criticises the G8 for adding debt write-off
into the total development figure to make it look better.
The G8 countries made a commitment to increase
development spending by $50bn (£27bn) a year by 2010.
And the raw data showing a $21bn increase in
development spending in 2005 over 2004 look as if they show some
progress towards that target.
The G8 countries will hold a full summit in St
Petersburg in July.
But Oxfam says 80% of that figure was in the
one-off cancellation of debt to Nigeria, along with cancellation of
debt to Iraq.
Oxfam says that if those figures are taken out
then "the underlying trend in aid by some G8 countries actually
gives cause for serious concern".
The danger is that this will mask a failure to
increase the underlying volume of real aid...
allowing the G8 to take their foot off the
Debt cancellation has to be accounted for
somewhere, and has traditionally been counted as part of the
development budget - although its beneficial effect to a country in
cutting repayments and interest paid out in a single year is much
less than the overall capital figure that is written off.
Oxfam concedes that the debt cancellation, and
other measures, have made a real difference.
"Across Africa, lifting the burden of debt is
allowing millions of dollars to be directed to fighting poverty
instead of repaying rich countries," it says.
But in lumping it together with other development
payments, the developed world is "double counting" the money.
The government has set a clear timetable to meet
the 0.7% target by 2013 and is fully on track with
its plans to achieve this
UK International Development Secretary
Oxfam says that second tranches of debt
cancellation to Nigeria and Iraq in 2006 will similarly obscure the
real figure this year, and challenge the G8 countries to show how
they will defuse a "time bomb" when the debt repayment figures are
not there in 2007.
"The danger is that this will mask a failure to
increase the underlying volume of real aid in line with their
Gleneagles commitments, allowing the G8 to take their foot off the
Freak of Accountancy
The Oxfam analysis of the figures finds that once
debt repayments are taken out of the equation, the total increase in
development assistance by the G8 countries is 8%.
Italy and the US have the largest increases, but
both come from a very low base, and remain at the bottom of the
table in terms of their development assistance as a percentage of
GNI (Gross National Income).
The Director of Oxfam Barbara Stocking said: "At
the current rate of progress real aid is not rising nearly fast
enough across the G8 countries to meet their Gleneagles aid
commitment to increase by $50bn by 2010.
"The G8 must make clear how and when they will
deliver real aid increases, to pay for vital services such as health