Debate

The XNUMX% target is a problem for state aid

The XNUMX% target is a disbursement target that prevents the implementation of a responsible disbursement policy. Where is the upper limit for how much money Sida can handle? The political parties should start discussing alternatives to the XNUMX% target and stop the automaticity of the increase in development aid. It writes Karin Lange (Wohlin), who recently compiled her experiences in the book "Page from the inside
- Memories and thoughts on aid 1965 - 1995 "

I was very disappointed when the moderates succumbed to public pressure and advocated the 2007% target in their latest budget bill. They do it against better knowledge. The other alliance parties should begin to take responsibility for the content of state aid. Have they familiarized themselves with development aid issues and the problems associated with development aid? Do they at all take part in the international debate on the justification of aid in a changing world? The then Minister for Development Aid claimed in XNUMX that the one percent target is a disbursement target, which stands in the way of the implementation of a responsible development policy.

I would like to list a few reasons why this is the case.

The 1% target is the mantra of most politicians. To only discuss the percentage is to do the aid a disservice. The disadvantages of the lack of debate are many. We do not get a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches. I find it difficult to understand the coherence that exists between the political parties, when it comes to state aid. Development aid policy, which was developed in the 1970s, is based on a socialist foundation. The lack of debate gave the officials at Sida a unique power in Swedish public administration. An aid culture has been developed protected from transparency. It is not questioned by the bourgeois parties. That's remarkable. The Government's and the Riksdag's commitment to development assistance is not in the bill to the approximately 38 billion it is about today.

How would it affect the willingness to aid, if you stated the amount instead of talking about a percentage? A public debate provides significantly better knowledge than one-sided government information, which aims to strengthen the Swedes' willingness to help. According to Sida, the public is behind the aid, because they want to support the fight against poverty. That sounds good. But if it was clearer from the debate that aid de facto does not reach the poor to the extent that Sida lets it shine, how would the public react then?

2. The Ministry of Finance was not as interested in SIDA's breeding as it was in other authorities. The appropriation was given as a result of the connection to GDP / GNI and the Ministry of Finance could not influence with demands for rationalisations and better goal fulfillment. The Ministry was therefore not particularly sensitive to the National Audit Office's criticism over the years. And SIDA did not have to care about the criticism.

The 3% target has favored large-scale development assistance, in contrast to the fact that it is the small-scale efforts that have often had the greatest spill-over effect. If there was greater insight in the Riksdag and the government, Sida would be given a larger administrative grant in relation to the development assistance grant. As it is now, Sida is living under constant pressure to get rid of a grant that is constantly increasing. In my time, it was important for an administrator to get rid of at least SEK 40 million a year. What is the sum today?

Is it not time to question the size of state aid and discuss the alternatives? An important question is where the limit goes for how large a grant Sida can handle. 38 billion. Does that make sense? Where does the upper limit go?

Good aid is not primarily about money. Development depends on creative thinking. It is the problem analysis, which is the crux of the matter. This is what makes aid so difficult. It is only once the actual problem has been identified that there are conditions for finding a solution. Poor aid destroys more than it helps. An open account of the problems encountered as aid workers would be valuable. Alternative solutions should be discussed.

It is difficult to bring about an aid debate that is not based on scandals. But now the development aid budget has reached such a level that it is no longer possible to turn a blind eye to the unreasonableness of the situation. Soon 40 billion. The debate must be conducted among the electorate and not just handled by the established aid supporters.

My call to the political parties is to start discussing alternatives to the use of at least part of the aid billions and to find a way to stop the automaticity of the increase in aid funding.

Karin Lange (Wohlin)

Former department director at SIDA.

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