Theater of Cruelty

Oil in – aid out

Norwegian People's Aid wants Norway's oil surplus into a development aid fund.


[budget] Oil money falls into the Treasury, but the aid budget does not change. Liv Tørres, head of foreign affairs at Norwegian People's Aid, believes that a separate aid fund should therefore be set up to take away the cash flow.

- The oil price and thus the oil revenues increase so much that the "one percent plan" is constantly becoming difficult to deliver, says Tørres.

For many years, it has been a goal for Norway to provide one per cent of GNI (gross national income) for assistance, but this has not been adjusted when the state's revenues have increased significantly.

- The share of the increased income that is above what the government has calculated, should be channeled into a fund on an ongoing basis. Another possibility is that money can be transferred to such a fund at the end of the budget year, when you have an overview of the income, says Tørres.

She suggests that the surplus can be used for extraordinary grants.

- This year, the Middle East would have a clear priority in such a fund, other years there may be other areas that should receive support. The fund should be able to be used for grants to various channels under the auspices of both the UN and voluntary organizations, says Tørres.

Olav Akselsen (Ap), the head of the Storting's Foreign Affairs Committee, believes that the idea should be included in the discussions on future aid.

- If we are talking about a fund that can last for several years, I think it can be something to look at. Otherwise, we work to strengthen the UN fund, and ensure that the organization is better equipped to deal with disasters when they come, says Akselsen, and points out that the UN today must go begging to get funds for major disasters.

Earlier this week, the government gathered for its first annual budget conference. It has not been possible to confirm how much the government will increase the aid budget for 2007. Liv Tørres and Atle Sommerfeldt, Secretary General of Norwegian Church Aid, are unequivocal in their demand that the government must get the aid up to one per cent of the state budget already in the state budget for 2007 .

- This has been a stated political goal for several years. The government should get something done about this now, says Sommerfeldt.

Norwegian assistance

[target] Around NOK 18,5 billion of the Norwegian state budget in 2006 goes to aid. In the autumn of 2005, this amounted to around 0,96 per cent of GNI (gross national income). The Government's goal is to provide more than one per cent of GNI during the parliamentary period, and that the efforts will be further stepped up.

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