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Island praised for its global aid assistance

The report estimated that large amounts of the island’s 2011 ODA was spent on humanitarian assistance during the Libya crisis, among others. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

The report estimated that large amounts of the island’s 2011 ODA was spent on humanitarian assistance during the Libya crisis, among others. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Malta is one of the nine European Union countries that kept its promise of global development assistance but still failed to issue a complete breakdown of its overseas aid expenditure.

The country has increased its aid, but no breakdown has been provided

The island is the only country among those that joined the EU since 2004 that met its development assistance targets for 2011, according to a report by European development NGOs.

But the AidWatch report notes the government has not yet issued a comprehensive breakdown of its official development assistance (ODA) expenditure.

“Malta is the only EU member state that doesn’t provide a breakdown of its ODA, which is ultimately taxpayers’ money,” Dominik Kalweit, from AidWatch, said.

The report estimated that large amounts of the island’s 2011 ODA was spent on detaining irregular migrants and on humanitarian assistance during the Libya crisis.

It states Malta is “on track” and has exceeded the EU target for 2010 (0.17 per cent of its income), while demonstrating a gradual aid increase to meet the 0.33 per cent target in 2015.

The island reported 0.26 per cent of its gross national income as ODA.

However, the report insists that only 0.19 per cent could be reported as genuine aid, which represents the real transfer of resources to developing countries.

When contacted, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Malta’s estimated ODA contribution was 0.25 per cent and the government was “fully committed” to reaching the 0.33 per cent target.

A spokesman added that Malta complied with the OECD Development Assistance Committee regulations, even though it was not a member.

This meant that the country fulfilled its international obligations of ODA reporting and allocation, the spokesman said.

Malta fills a standard questionnaire and the European Commission publishes its statistics.

Negotiations to publish full details continue but for now there is no agreement among member states. Malta is prepared to disclose the full details once all member states reach an agreement.

According to AidWatch, EU member states remain the world’s aid champions but last year European assistance fell for the first time since 2007.

On the positive side, the report says all countries that joined the EU since 2004 – apart from Cyprus – increased their aid in 2011.

Malta tops the list with a 44 per cent increase, followed by Lithuania and Romania at 37 per cent.

At the same time, the report includes Malta among the largest European inflators of aid, together with Greece, Italy and France.

Mr Kalweit said this discrepancy could have resulted because Malta included its Arab Spring aid contribution within its ODA expenditure calculations.

EU aid commitments (for 2011)

9 member states, including Malta, exceeded the 2010 international commitment

7 member states provided less than 50 per cent of their commitments

44 per cent: the increase in Malta’s aid disbursement

11 countries cut their aid levels

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