52 years after a corresponding UN resolution, Austria will achieve the international goal of spending 0.7 percent of its economic power on development aid for the first time next year. As can be seen from Parliament’s budget analysis, according to the budget proposal, public spending on development cooperation is set to rise to 0.87 percent of gross national income in 2022. The reason for this is a billions in debt relief for Sudan.
In 1970 the United Nations set the target that the industrialized countries should spend 0.7 percent of the gross national product on official development aid. To date, only a few countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands or Luxembourg have met this requirement in the long term. Austria traditionally ranks at the bottom of the list when it comes to spending on official development cooperation (ODA). The highest level was reached in 2005 under ÖVP Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik with 0.52 percent of economic output (GNI). In the previous year, the Austrian ODA rate was 0.29 percent.
Development aid organizations have long criticized the fact that debt relief can also be included in development cooperation expenditure because it is a fraudulent label. A debt relief in particular should enable Austria to operate the UN target in a more up-to-date manner in the coming year. EZA spending is expected to rise to EUR 3.774 billion in 2022 (from EUR 2.5 billion in 2021), which is “due in particular to debt reductions,” according to the parliamentary report.
Specifically, it should be about Sudan’s debts amounting to 2.5 billion euros, two thirds of which will die in the coming year and one third in 2024. The ODA quota should develop accordingly by leaps and bounds by 2025: 0.87 percent in 2022, 0.26 percent in 2023, 0.52 percent in 2024 and then again 0.24 percent in 2024, the APA on Tuesday initially received no opinion on Parliament’s budgetary service report.
On the occasion of the debate on the budget of the Foreign Ministry, the FPÖ sharply exercised debt relief and requested criticism of its deletion. The FPÖ MP Martin Graf told the APA that 2.5 billion euros were “the same amount as all Austrian cities and municipalities should get to compensate for the financial losses caused by the Corona crisis.” At the same time, he described it as “unbelievable” that the Greens in power, of all people, who had always been in favor of an increase in the EZA, “are now giving in to this rogue”. Ultimately, “nothing at all will be funded, but only probably bad debts will be written off anyway,” said Graf. He also expressed the fear that the Sudanese military junta “will soon put the money that is now being saved for interest and repayments into new weapons”.
In Sudan, the military took power at the end of October, and the civilian members of the previous transitional government were arrested. Since the coup there have been repeated mass protests that have been violently suppressed.