OECD urges Portugal to increase aid spending

15 Dec 15

Portugal’s foreign aid budget is dwindling and action is needed to stop it declining further, an OECD review has found.

A Development Assistance Committee peer review found the amount of official development assistance offered by Portugal has dropped for three years in a row, and now stands at $419m, equivalent to just 0.19% of gross national income. This is significantly short of the 0.7% demanded by the United Nations target and also below the average of 0.3% found across the OECD.

DAC chair Erik Solheim said: “Portugal brings many positive elements to international development. This includes a forward-looking vision, a tight geographic focus and a commitment to partner countries, which have a strong voice in aid projects.

“These assets could be more effectively deployed if Portugal commits to increase its aid volume, untie its aid and improve the co-ordination and oversight of its aid programme.”

The OECD is warning that without opening up new credit lines or expanding the grant elements of its aid programme, Portugal’s aid volumes will continue to decline.

It also noted that the share of Portugal’s aid that is tied to the purchase of Portuguese goods and services rose to 70% in 2013, well above the OECD average of 14%. The country is being urged to avoid any more tied-aid agreements, which go against commitments on aid effectiveness.

It also criticised Portugal’s fragmented approach to providing development aid. A total of 57 public bodies, each with their own budgets and implementation strategies, are involved in delivering some aspects of ODA, making a coherent aid approach difficult to achieve. Portugal’s development agency does not have input or oversight of half of the country’s bilateral aid budget, the OECD said.

The top recipients of Portuguese aid are Cabo Verde, Mozambique, Morocco, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Timor-Leste, China, Guinea-Bissau, Brazil and Afghanistan.

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