Britain and U.S. appeal to G8 to meet aid promises
HUNTSVILLE, ONTARIO |
HUNTSVILLE, ONTARIO (Reuters) - U.S. and British leaders on Friday pressed other rich nations to live up to their aid promises as they seek new ways to help poorer nations even though their own budgets are squeezed.
The Group of Eight, meeting in Huntsville, Ontario, north of Toronto on Friday, are short by an estimated $18 billion (12 billion pounds) on a 2005 pledge at a G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to raise their combined aid by at least $50 billion by 2010.
Individually, the United States, Britain and Canada met their aid pledges. Italy failed to deliver any of its funding, while Germany, France and Japan delivered less aid than they promised, anti-poverty group ONE which monitors the aid, said.
"I think it is frustrating that world leaders sign up to things and then don't deliver them and we have to make sure that happens," Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters. "We made promises back in Gleneagles. We should stick to those promises."
The White House said in a statement President Barack Obama was urging transparency and accountability in the G8.
"The president believes that the credibility of the G8 rests on the willingness of its members to honour their commitments by reporting transparently on progress and identifying areas where additional effort is required," the statement said.
The World Bank has warned that progress made so far in developing countries could be set back if aid levels declined further, pushing more people into poverty.
"We have to say today we have not met all the commitments," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso ahead of the G8 meeting. "If we want to be successful we'll have to speed up our work," he told reporters.
G8 AID PROMISES
The G8's meeting in the sleepy lakeside community provides a contrast to the hectic urban pace of Toronto, where other prickly economic issues await the larger Group of 20 summit on Saturday and Sunday.
Although the G8 cannot avoid talking about its own economic troubles -- namely the strength of the global recovery and the state of public finances -- the smaller group is carving out time to discuss problems facing poor countries.
Canada, host of the G8 and G20 meetings, wants to ensure donor countries follow through on their commitments and is urging a means of monitoring the aid.
The hosts also want a focus on Haiti's rebuilding from a devastating earthquake. Haiti was invited to attend the G8 meeting along with Jamaica and African nations Senegal, Algeria, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt.
The United States is pushing for more agricultural investment in Africa and is seeking more contributions for a fund to boost farm production in poorer countries.
The G8 will discuss progress towards meeting the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, on poverty by 2015.
The goal for mother-and-child health is a particular concern, with the World Bank reporting "fragile and uneven" progress in reducing maternal deaths, a major burden for countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
UNMET AID PLEDGES
The World Bank in a report urged rich countries to live up to their aid pledges. It said rich countries should their economic recovery so poorer states were not further hit by falling exports.
Development groups called on industrialized countries to renew aid commitments from Gleneagles, arguing that many African governments had kept their end of the bargain to adopt sound economic policies and tackle corruption.
Oliver Buston, ONE's European director, said while collectively the G8 had not entirely lived up to their commitments, some had and that should not be overlooked.
"We shouldn't be totally cynical about the potential for these summits to achieve things," he said. "Whilst we are slating (Italian Prime Minister Silvio) Berlusconi and annoyed with the French and Germans, it was worthwhile," he added, noting progress in education and tackling HIV/AIDS and malaria.
(Additional reporting by Brian Love, Louise Egan and Caren Bohan; Writing by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Mario Di Simine and David Storey)
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