07/08/2008, 00.00
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Many pledges, few concrete answers for developing world

Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International, notes that support programmes for the poor have been largely ignored. Only 7 out of 50 billion dollars in extra aid budget have been spent on the environment, development and health care.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Pledges to developing countries in health care, long-term development and programmes to protect the environment have been ignored, treated as mere window-dressing till now, this according to Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International, who spoke to ABC Radio (Australia).

The aid commitments made in 2005 in Scotland by the leaders of the major industrialised countries have not been met. Of the $US 50 billion in extra aid budgets planned for 2010, only US$ 7 billion, or 14 per cent, have been delivered.

The global economic crisis, the rise in fuel prices and the food crisis have made matters worse. Now industrialised countries seem more interested in solving their domestic problems than in helping nations in difficulty.

For this reason Hobbs believes that “this summit really has to come up with some pretty substantial proposals if we are not going to see things get very significantly worse—particularly for poor countries.”

Mr Hobbs said that whilst a lot of third-world debt has been written off, new money is needed for health, education and long-term development to lift countries out of poverty.

One of the problems is that when the G8 countries count their development assistance, they include debt forgiveness which of course is not fresh money,” he said.

“But with the food crisis, I mean the estimates are around about $US 14.5 billion necessary to really get food production back in order in developing countries.”

“If you think of the adaptation issue under climate change which is another big topic at this summit, we need money for adaptation because people are suffering now. It is not something that could be put off into the future and they'll need fresh money for that.”

In Scotland in 2005, G8 leaders also pledged that all HIV positive people would enjoy universal access to anti-AIDS drugs by 2010. Whilst a lot of progress has been made, there is still a long way to go.

What is more, the commitment on health made last year is still unclear because the time-frame for the $US 60 billion set aside for health ranges between three and eight years.

"So if you spend it in three years, you get a lot more money. If you spend it over eight years, obviously it is actually a real cut,” Hobbs said.

“One of the things that is being addressed is that issue in this meeting is the time-frame for spending that money on health.”

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