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Swiss ODA: major debate in prospect

Published: 20. 10. 2011

The Swiss Parliament will be holding a major debate next year on official development assistance. It will focus on an overall credit package for the years 2013 to 2016, worth between 10 and 12 billion francs.

In the future the Swiss Government will invariably submit major spending proposals to parliament at the start of the 4-year legislative period. These include the four-yearly credit lines for official development aid in the South and in Eastern Europe as well as for humanitarian aid. In 2012 they will come before parliament together for the first time and will be subject to a single overall strategy also for the first time. This affords a broad overview of the goals of international cooperation up to 2016 and of the measures with which the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) expect to achieve them.

Both these federal agencies are advocating deeper involvement in North Africa and increased cooperation with private companies. The SDC is keen to turn its focus more towards countries that lack the political will or simply the ability to guarantee the population a minimum of security («fragile contexts»). Plans are also afoot to expand its global health-related programmes (climate, food security, migration, water).

Due to the parliament's decision in the spring of 2011 to increase development cooperation to 0.5 per cent of gross national income by 2015, the overall amount of 10 to 12 billion francs is high. And here lies the disadvantage of this enormous package: its size is likely to spark much more discussion than the strategy, goals and concrete measures. Besides, after the elections this October, every third member of parliament will be new in the house. This does not leave much time to explain to them the meaning and purpose of development assistance.

Michèle Laubscher, Alliance Sud

Article published in: Alliance Sud News No. 69, Autumn 2011

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