CAFOD urges Chancellor to increase overseas aid

 CAFOD is urging Gordon Brown to increase the aid budget for developing countries. CAFOD wants the United Kingdom to give 0.7 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in aid by 2008. The Comprehensive Spending Review is taking place and CAFOD believes the Chancellor must act now if the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be reached. The MDGs are a set of goals aimed at lifting 600 million people out of poverty by 2015 that have been adopted by the United Nations. CAFOD's Director Chris Bain said: "On my recent trip to Ethiopia, I saw how aid money spent well can transform lives. That is why rich countries must give more to poorer ones. Gordon Brown should use the Comprehensive Spending Review to set 2008 as the date that the UK reaches 0.7 percent. "Setting this as the target date means that we are not asking the UK to commit any future government beyond a possible third term of the Labour government. "Increasing the aid budget is the only way of showing unilaterally that the government is committed to development. Tackling poverty through trade and debt reform requires protracted international negotiations, while aid can be increased quite literally with the stroke of a pen." CAFOD also believes that committing to the 0.7 percent will give a boost to the Chancellor's International Finance Facility (IFF). The proposed IFF seeks to raise the amount of development aid from rich to poor countries from just over $50 billion a year today to $100 billion per year in the years to 2015. Chris Bain said: "Next year's presidency of the G8 presents an important opportunity for Britain to lever a significant increase in aid resources from the major donors. To secure their support for this, we believe that that UK first needs to demonstrate its unilateral commitment to international development through the 0.7 percent target. "We believe too, that the 2008 target for 0.7 percent would reinforce the case for the IFF because this could not then be seen as a diversion from existing international obligations to meet the UN target. The IFF would instead be rightly seen as an essential source of finance, additional to aid budgets including that of the UK, which is vital to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals." Currently the UK gives over 0.3 percent of its GDP in aid. CAFOD says that on current rates of increase the UK would be on course to achieve the 0.7 percent target in 2012. Chris Bain has written to the Chancellor along with other members of BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development) network.

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