Did Malta deceives the World?

David Vella





While EU figures rank Malta as the new member state with the highest percentage of its Gross National Income (GNI) given to international development aid, the local Social Watchers claim that this goal was achieved “deceptively”. SW Malta’s Report was quoted in: Maltastar.com

Malta has allegedly doubled the official figures of its donations to developing countries by including the money spent by government on refugees and irregular immigrants in Malta.

When Malta became a signatory of the Millenium Development Goals, it was committed to donate 0.17% of its GNI to assist developing countries. The Millenium Development Goals are a set of eight concrete targets set by the UN World Summit in 2000, aimed at eradicating poverty.

A European Commission 2006 report, ‘Financing for development and aid effectiveness: The Challenges of scaling EU aid 2006-2010” stated that Malta contributed 0.18% of its GNI for official development aid (ODA). Yet, “Malta’s aid is deceptively doubled by the inclusion of its spending on refugees in Malta” states another report published by CONCORD, a European non-governmental development organisation platform, of which Malta is a member.

Money spent on refugees is not ODA

This scenario was again highlighted in the latest ‘Social Watch’ report for 2006, entitled “Impossible Architecture – why the financial structure is not working for the poor and how to redesign it for equity and development”. ‘Social Watch’ is an international NGO watchdog network monitoring poverty eradication and gender equality. The report includes a two page country report on Malta penned by Joseph M.Sammut, and analyses Malta’s development on crucial issues such as gender equality, unemployment and poverty, public financial administration, irregular immigration, and ODA.

With reference to Malta’s official development aid figure announced by the EU, the ‘Social Watch’ report states that “genuine ODA is money allocated as development aid to improve the welfare of the poor in poor countries, and not money spent on refugees or foreign students studying in the donor country. In addition, Malta wrote off Lm2.8 million in dept owned by Iraq in 2004, and this money was included as part of the Maltese ODA for 2003-2005.

More on beauty products than on development aid

The report also criticises government for having “paid too much attention to the need for consumption-led economic growth and too little attention to issues of equity and the fulfillment of basic human rights”. While Maltese people spent Lm5.4 million on perfumes and beauty products in 2005, Malta’s official ODA figure was less than Lm2.1 million. “A key role of government is not simply to reflect public preferences, but to offer leadership in shaping public priorities on important issues such as development aid to poor countries.”

‘Social Watch’ also reminds that Malta and Cyprus are the only two EU countries who have not yet set up a development policy, even if this is one of the requirements for membership within the bloc. “The Maltese government must live up to the promises it made” the report concludes.