27 May, (devex) Richard Jones: Less than two months away from the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, many within the global development community are wondering whether top donors will step up to the challenge of financing the future sustainable development goals.
Debapriya Bhattacharya, chair of the Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals, a network of think tanks from the 48 Least Developed Countries in South Asia, Africa and Latin America, believes the European Union is a donor that can “lead from the front” alongside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on initiatives like providing technical assistance for better taxation in developing countries.
However, while this and other sources of development finance like foreign direct investment may seem like “low-hanging fruit,” he complained that donors are still focusing too much on doling out official development assistance, instead of helping to mobilize resources.
“Two years ago, I said that the biggest help for the low-income countries was for the EU to get its house in order, as at that time, [many of the] EU economies and member states were in a state of economic crisis. That observation still remains, because if the EU doesn’t grow itself, then it cannot help others to grow. It means that there will not be enough market demand for goods and not be enough income for the taxpayers to pay for the ODA budget.
But, in between, what has also happened is that EU’s aid policy — or, for that matter, trade policy — has also progressed in that we have seen that the rules of origin issue has been improved so that countries — like my own country Bangladesh, other low-income countries and least-developed countries — can export goods”.
And although it had been growing in terms of dispersing aid to LDCs, last year it went down in real terms, and while colleagues at the OECD promise that it will go up in the coming years, that is really the empirical issue. So I would say the picture had been pretty mixed and we will have to wait and see.
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