Moderates propose major development aid reforms

The Moderate Party wants to ditch Sweden’s development aid goal of devoting 1 percent of the country’s gross national income (GNI) to foreign assistance.

Instead, the party wants to implement a minimum level of 0.7 percent of GNI as well as greater freedom when it comes to choosing how the funds will be used.

“We Moderates have reason to be self-critical when it comes to our earlier engagement in foreign aid to developing countries,” write foreign aid minster Gunilla Carlsson and party secretary Per Schlingmann in an article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

It’s time to leave the old foreign aid policies behind, they write.

The party’s governing board has instead decided on a new “moderate development policy” of which effective foreign aid is said to be an important part.

“For the money that is devoted to fighting poverty – in addition to the 0.7 percent of GNI – Sweden wouldn’t need to be slavishly beholden to the OECD Development Aid Committee’s criteria for what counts as foreign assistance,” write Carlsson and Schilngmann.

For example, the Moderates want to strengthen peace processes by contributing to organizations like the African Union and to research on infectious diseases which primarily affect the world’s poor.

“We also think it is obvious that Sweden could make efforts for democracy in countries which are not approved as foreign aid recipients according to the OECD-DAC, especially Russia. Because we think that engagement in democracy and human rights in nearby foreign countries is an obvious priority for development policy,” write the two.