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Appropriations to the Official Development Assistance mission

Publié le November 1, 2011
Hearing of Henri de Raincourt, Minister responsible for Cooperation, before the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee (excerpts)
Paris, October 19, 2011

(…)

It’s a great pleasure to be able to discuss Official Development Assistance with deputies who are interested in and very familiar with these issues. We mustn’t underestimate the role of development in the life of the planet, even though development policies are unfortunately not at the centre of election campaigns.

In terms of the 2012 budget, the Minister responsible for Cooperation is in a more favourable situation than his colleagues.

First of all, the €2.1 billion budget for Programme 209¹ has been ring-fenced for the three years 2011, 2012 and 2013, and this commitment has been fully respected. Secondly, it hasn’t been affected by the budgetary “squeeze” of €1 billion in extra savings, and its appropriations have been maintained. (…)

As regards the distribution of financing between multilateral and bilateral aid, the latter – which last year accounted for 60% of the total volume of Official Development Assistance – will reach 65% next year, in accordance with parliament’s wishes.

France hopes to adjust her development policy in the light of world events. So we want to help the countries that have experienced the Arab Spring; at the G8 summit in Deauville, this translated into the mobilization of $40 billion, including €1.1 billion in loans from the French Development Agency (AFD).

We also want to support and encourage democratic transitions by means of “primes à la démocratie” [financial incentives to promote democracy], as in Guinea, Niger and Côte d’Ivoire. In the last of these countries, nearly €3.5 billion will be mobilized, including an exceptional commitment of €400 million, a debt reduction and development contract of €2 billion, and debt cancellation of €1 billion in 2012. Those are considerable sums. Along with the Niger authorities, we’ve almost finished specifying the priorities where our support is wanted. To this end, a budget line exists for civilian cooperation in the order of an additional €100 million.

In the area of maternal and child health – a subject discussed at the Muskoka summit – France is providing €100 million per year over five years. France’s contribution to the fund to fight AIDS, which was €300 million, will increase fo €360 million a year thanks to an additional €60 million in extra-budgetary appropriations obtained from the tax on plane tickets.

Beyond these major commitments, France also hopes to maintain her geographical priorities, with 60% of the state’s budget going to sub-Saharan Africa, 50% of our subsidies going to the 14 priority poor countries and 20% to the Mediterranean countries, with the rest going to help other countries and to meet needs.

France today ranks third among the world’s providers of appropriations. The share of national wealth devoted to development financing is 0.5% of GNI. The figures for 2011 will appear in the document currently being finalized; the budget department is doing the necessary calculations to this end. So we’ll be in a position to give you all the awaited figures within a few weeks, and of course we remain determined to ensure the proportion of French development aid reaches 0.7% of GNI in 2015, in accordance with international commitments.

The G20 summit to be held in Cannes will be the first one to pay special attention to development. The ministerial meeting organized for this purpose in Washington on 23 September, which was attended by M. François Baroin, Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry, tackled three broad themes.

The first is food security, picking up on all the work done on the major agricultural issues by the agriculture ministers and adding, in particular, the creation of emergency food stocks. Indeed, we saw during the Horn of Africa famine that there could be delays of up to several weeks between the decision to provide food aid and the moment when that aid was actually sent out. Yet we should be able to react almost immediately in the event of a disaster. We’re going to run this experiment in West Africa by creating – with the support of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional organization which has put itself forward to do this – 67,000 tonnes of stocks, making it possible to meet needs over the 90 days to be covered until international aid arrives.

The second major theme is infrastructure: energy, water and transport. Indeed, we want to contribute, along with others, to the emergence of endogenous growth in Africa, and we want regional markets to be able to develop, which requires more energy and presupposes that goods and people can travel. Concrete proposals have been made on financing, and Mr Tidjane Thiam, the Ivorian chief executive of a very large, London-based insurance company, has been asked to present a list of the few infrastructures decisive to this – dams, road infrastructures and rail links – that are capable of raising the relevant funds, which may be public, private or the result of decentralized cooperation.

The third major theme is innovative financing: we’ll be able to meet the needs that emerge, particularly on the African continent, only through new financing. Indeed, in the coming years the financial situation of the rich or formerly rich countries will at best allow only a stabilization of Official Development Assistance at budgetary level. In certain countries, the decline has already begun. Moreover, given the foreseeable demographic changes on the African continent – whose population will rise from a billion today to two billion by 2050 – there would have to be a 70% increase in agricultural production, in addition to fighting climate change. (…)

Such financing already exists in some 40 countries and its technical viability has been proven; besides, France doesn’t have a monopoly of ideas in this area. So the creation of a tax on plane tickets proposed by France and Brazil – far from emptying airports as its detractors prophesied – is enabling us to raise funds to improve health and fight AIDS. France hopes those economic sectors which most benefit from globalization and play only a small role in development financing will be made to contribute more. We have ideas to put forward on this for sea and road transport, and we also want to see the introduction as soon as possible of a financial transaction tax that is as broad-based and as low-level as possible so that it doesn’t – as certain countries fear – harm the competitiveness of the financial centres.

At France and Germany’s behest, the European Commission has made proposals to this effect. It’s now up to the heads of state and government to decide in Cannes on what follow-up to give to these proposals, as well as to the report to be presented by Mr Bill Gates at President Sarkozy’s request, the broad lines of which he set out to us in Washington at the G20 summit on development financing. The sector is changing, but we absolutely must keep up the pressure.

We’re actually facing a twofold risk: in addition to the risk linked to the election, the financial crisis may make it tempting to resolve one’s own problems before coming to the help of others. This would be a major political failing that would later prove very costly; we should explain this to our fellow citizens. (…)./.

(1) Programme to provide aid for developing countries in such areas as higher education, sustainable development and eradicating poverty.

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