Finland is expected to reach the international target of spending 0.7 per cent of the country's gross national product on development in poor countries by 2015, and currently devotes 20 per cent of the increase in government spending every year to assist the poor, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said Tuesday at a UN debate in New York. ( dpa )
The 0.7 per cent target has been reached only by some Nordic and Scandinavian nations for overseas development assistance (ODA), as the aid is known.
Vanhanen attended discussion on the goals at UN headquarters in New York attended by government envoys to review progress. While the main goal is to eradicated extreme hunger and poverty by 2015, other goals include halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, reducing maternal and infant mortality rates and raising universal primary education.
He said Finland provided 506 million euros to development aid in 2003 and is expected to increase it to 1.110 billion euros by 2011, or a 119-per-cent increase in eight years.
"During my present government, the growth of development aid corresponds to 20 per cent of the total growth of government spending," he said.
He said reaching the target of 0.7 per cent of for ODA will entail many difficulties for his government, but he said Finland is willing to get there.
Turning to the UN development goals, Vanhanen and other high ranking officials said many countries around the world will not meet them. The UN said the spike in food prices around the world may contribute to slowing down efforts to reduce poverty and hunger.
Vanhanen said ending poverty and hunger is still possible by 2015 because of gains made since 2000 when the MDGs were adopted. But more efforts are needed in southern Asia and the sub-Sahara Africa region, while in East Asia, some governments have been able to stabilize policies as they pushed for economic growth and move out of the low-income status.