Malta: Not all aid is development aid

Malta, like all New Member States of the European Union, pledged to reach a level of official development assistance (ODA) of 0.17% of its gross national income (GNI) by 2010 and to increase it to 0.33% by 2015. Does Malta keep its promises to eradicate poverty in the world?

Civil society organizations have expressed their concern given that the government spends a large amount of ODA funds in the detention of irregular immigrants, many of them asylum seekers, the vulnerability of most of which is recognized through their refugee status or other forms of protection. Although the improvement in the distribution of ODA should be noted, 88% of bilateral aid is not clear. This is the reason why the government has been most criticized by NGOs in Malta and abroad.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the budget estimates for 2007, shows how ODA is distributed among eleven different development organizations. Only two are based in Africa. The bulk of the funds were allocated to bilateral aid, scholarships to foreign students in Malta and refugees in their first year in Malta or for repatriation.

EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot criticized Malta because of the more than 126 million Euros that were allocated from 2007 to 2013 for control of asylum, immigration and borders, only 18 million were spent. This assistance should be fully used. The government should make full use of the assistance offered by the European Union for refugees and asylum seekers in Malta.

The Social Watch report of Malta states that the country should:

  • Keep its promises to do its part in the eradication of poverty in the least developed countries. 
  • Show more transparency and accountability in the distribution of ODA budget. 
  • Display a clear policy and strategy in the selection and delivery of aid aimed at poverty eradication. 
  • Provide special attention to cross-cutting issues such as children's rights and empowerment of women. 
  • Collaborate with key stakeholders in making more efficient use of the money allocated.

Source: 2013 Malta Social Watch Report.

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