CAFOD, has accused the world's richest countries of hollowing out the development agenda, set by the United Nations, at this week's UN Financing for Development (FfD) Conference in Mexico. "After two years of negotiations, the Monterrey Declaration is more a series of prescriptions about how developing countries should manage their economies, than a serious effort to increase resources and development pro-poor rules", said CAFOD's policy analyst Henry Northover. "The world's richest countries have come up with some increases in aid, but it is only about a fifth of the most conservative estimates of what's needed to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) they have all signed up to." These increases in development spending have disguised moves by the world's richest countries to thwart efforts to construct a fairer global economy for the world's poor. Henry Northover said: "This is an elephant giving birth to a mouse. The FfD Conference has concluded two years of negotiation with the richest countries striking out all proposals that would have given poorer countries a greater say in setting the development agenda. "The US and the EU have both rejected plans that would have integrated debt relief with raising the finance to meet the internationally agreed goals to halve global poverty by 2015. Together they have vetoed increasing the say of low-income countries in the World Bank and IMF and in debt relief negotiations. They rejected a binding timetable to reach the UN aid targets to 0.7% of GNP. And they have ruled out fairer trade rules for the world's poorest." He added: "This was an opportunity for all UN member countries to think creatively on how to achieve the MDGs. But southern country participation in setting the development agenda has been swept aside by the richest countries. Instead, they are determined to preserve their control of the development agenda and the status quo through their majority shareholding of the World Bank and IMF." George Bush arrives in Mexico today as White House officials said that the US will gradually boost aid spending from 2004 to an extra $5bn a year by 2006. Henry Northover said: "The US announcements in particular repeat the discredited donor practices of the past. The US plans are about telling the poorest countries what programmes are good for them. We know that what fails are northern-imposed programmes that are about satisfying donor perceptions or interests rather than responding to recipient country needs."
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