Malta should not classify money spent on refugees at home as overseas development aid, according to a national report on poverty eradication.
“ODA should not be inflated by adding the costs of housing refugees, especially not by financing prophylaxis detention,” noted the report by Kopin, a Malta-based NGO working in North-South cooperation.
The study made particular reference to the 2012 Aid Watch report that claimed Malta could have inflated its development aid to poorer countries by 28 per cent in 2011 by factoring in money it spends on asylum seekers at home when such funds did not actually leave the country.
The island received roughly €18 million a year in EU funds to help with asylum, immigration and border control.
The Government should make full use of the aid offered by the EU for refugees and asylum seekers... while investing ODA funds in Majority World (developing) countries,” the Kopin report said.
Under the previous Administration, Malta had committed itself to spending 0.33 per cent of gross national income on ODA in 2015. The island reported that it spent 0.25 per cent of GNI on ODA in 2011.
Development organisations continuously criticised Malta about transparency in how aid money was spent, Kopin noted.
It said in the report: “It is pertinent to point out that 88 per cent of the bilateral aid is not transparently accounted for. The question arises: how and where is this large amount of ODA being spent?”
Malta contributes multilateral aid to UN and EU development programmes and also distributes funds among Maltese organisations working on development projects.
The previous Nationalist Administration said the country complied with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s regulations on aid spending and transparency, even though it was not a member.
It had express willingness to disclose full details on aid spending if all OECD member states reached an agreement on how this should be done.
“Maltese politicians should change their attitudes and be transparent in their ODA money and become role models for other nations working toward eradicating poverty,” Kopin said.
In its electoral manifesto, the Labour Party had promised to “take a more active role in international development aid”.
The Government has yet to respond to questions by The Times about its plans for aid spending and transparency.