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May 28, 2018 12:00 am | FILED UNDER: politics

Foreign Ministry Allocates Kc1.2 Billion In Development Aid

By ČTK Czech Foreign Ministry

Prague, May 28 (CTK) – The Czech Republic will earmark about 1.2 billion crowns for developmental aid in 2019, or 100 million crowns more than this year, daily Pravo writes today, citing a report that the Foreign Ministry drafted and sent to other ministers for comments.

 

The priority countries will continue to be Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova as well as Cambodia, Ethiopia and Zambia, which are one of the poorest countries in the world. Nearly 400 million crowns will go to them.

 

“The selection of the countries is made especially with respect to the general level of the bilateral relations,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronova told the paper.

 

The other criteria are the sustainability and impact of the developmental activities, the interest or readiness of the countries to form mutual partnership for development and division of labour with other donors, she said.

 

Lower house foreign affairs committee head Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD), who was foreign minister in 2014-17, appreciated that more money would be spent on development aid. He said he as minister had sought to increase the sum but had not succeeded. “It was impossible to push an increase through because it got into conflict with other priorities,” he said.

 

“We cannot send aid to the whole world, it is a matter of priorities. This is why the aid is sent to selected countries and we check whether it is effective,” Zaoralek said.

 

If aid is provided to a given country, it is hard to stop providing it because the launched projects might collapse, he said.

 

Within the United Nations, the Czech Republic pledged to spend 0.33 percent of its GDP on all forms of developmental aid by 2030. At present, it provides only nearly half of the sum. Along with other forms of developmental and humanitarian aid, for example in Syria, the Czech contribution is approximately four billion crowns a year.

 

According to the Czech Forum for Development Cooperation, the country should provide an estimated 12 billion crowns a year, Pravo writes.

 

However, none of the 14 EU countries that pledged to meet the limit of 0.33 percent of GDP has reached this level. On the other hand, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands have been meeting their markedly higher level of 0.7 percent of GDP.

 

Zaoralek said the set level can hardly be achieved in the Czech Republic. “There is always a lack of money. It is a question of agreement in society. When I come to the Prague University of Economics, they tell me it is embarrassing and undignified how little we contribute. But there are other environments in which people feel that this aid is pointless,” he said.

 

The Foreign Ministry wants to engage the private sector in development aid. Developing countries mostly call for the creation of new jobs and investments into their economies, Pravo writes.

 

Zaoralek said this worked in Palestine where Czechs started building solar plants and the aid turned into business projects, which is an ideal strategy.

 

But the ministry plans to lower the development aid provided to Palestine next year. The Czech also focused on agriculture and water resources in this country.

 

Lagronova said cooperation with Palestine was moving to other forms which are sought by both sides, especially in the economic sphere.

 

The largest part of the development aid, 520 million crowns, is distributed through the Czech Development Agency in form of open tenders, subsidies, financial contributions and budgetary measures.

 

The contributions focusing on NGOs, regions, municipalities and universities will lower next year, while more money will be given to the private sector and Czech experts will go abroad to help more often than now.

 

Up to 230 million crowns is earmarked for humanitarian aid for regions hit by natural disasters or armed conflicts in 2019. The Foreign Ministry said this contribution helped prevent a migration crisis.

 

Lagronova said the United Nations and the European Union share the view that the financial resources from public budget are not sufficient to cover the developmental needs of the contemporary world.

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