Lopatka: "SPÖ should support ÖVP's amendment to the Federal Financial Framework Act"
Development cooperation is a responsibility of the entire Federal Government
Vienna, 28 May 2013 – "Development cooperation is a responsibility the whole Federal Government shares", State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said. "This is why we are happy to accept Chancellor Faymann's proposal that departments held by the Social Democrats should also contribute a balancing share to the financing of development cooperation within the next financial framework. This proposal now needs to be implemented consistently." The Austrian People's Party has submitted a corresponding amendment to the Federal Financial Framework Act to the SPÖ before today's session of the Ministerial Council. Besides the Ministry of European and International Affairs and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the Ministry of Finance contributes 200 million euros to international financial institutions and the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Water Management contributes, among other things, food aid to the amount of 7.5 million euros.
"If the SPÖ ministries have financial leeway we will greatly welcome any redeployment to the benefit of development cooperation", the State Secretary said and offered that the Foreign Ministry could make its contribution by taking over the OECD Embassy in Paris, which would mean a permanent financial relief for the Federal Chancellery.
The ADA's budget for 2013 is about 77 million euros – i.e. the same as in 2012. Any curtailment of funds for development cooperation – as was necessary in nearly all areas – was successfully avoided this year. "In total, the ADA has some 117 million euros of operational funds available for development cooperation in 2013, as it has successfully obtained external funds in addition to the budget resources by implementing EU-financed projects", Lopatka said.
"We regret that we still have a long way to go to reach our goal of 0.7% of the GNP", he continued. "Of all the 27 EU member states, only four countries – Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – have already reached this goal. We are still holding firm to this aim. The Austrian People's Party will push for more funds to be provided for development cooperation on a long-term and permanent basis and do everything to pursue the 0.7% objective further and ensure that development cooperation will be more than a flash in the election campaign pan."
As far as the SPÖ's proposal of falling back on provisions of the Foreign Ministry is concerned, the State Secretary said: "The provisions made in the Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs are significantly smaller than the provisions of other ministries and are needed to cover costs caused by acute crises." This would be the case, for example, if the United Nations suddenly demanded mandatory contributions to necessary peacekeeping missions as in Mali and Syria. "The provisions are also used to cover euro exchange rate fluctuations, or to help Austrians in need in acute crises abroad as is the case at present in Egypt and Libya or was the case in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster in the recent past", Lopatka said.
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