Target 8.B: Needs of Least Developed Countries (LDC’s)
I. Principles of action:
“Tariff and quota free access for the least developed countries' exports; enhanced programme of debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) and cancellation of official bilateral debt; more generous Official Development Aid (ODA) for countries committed to poverty reduction”.
This target includes those that are probably the most controversial issues in the development field, namely ODA and the debt question. Accordingly, it is met by severe criticism from Samir Amin, who states that the HIPC programme “imposes a genuinely colonial tutelage” on beneficiary countries, this being accepted as legitimate by practically everyone, including national populations. When it comes to the pledge for “more generous ODA commitment”, the author envisages it as a major “comedy”, bearing in mind that similar pledges have been “endlessly repeated for the last fifty years by those who are responsible for implementing it and yet never do it”. The adjective “generous” itself should lead us to further questioning if we assume this critical perspective that implies that aid is only provided by donors to advance their own interests and not those of the recipient countries, and in this questioning we must consider, for instance, the issues of conditionality of aid and distribution of aid, knowing that it is not always attributed to the most impoverished countries – the fact that Irak was the first receptor of aid in absolute terms in 2007, followed by Afghanistan, appears to support the perspective that suggests the existence of less noble interests underlying the allocation of aid.
The commitment made in 2000 pledged for the attribution of 0.7% of developed countries Gross National Income to Official Development Aid by 2015, but this value is not predicted to be achieved, considering the reality of 0.3% in 2008. Donor countries are expected to rise ODA by 0.5% this year, in order to still have the chance to meet the target in a short 5 years’ time. However, perspectives of reaching those levels of ODA become even more remote when we face the possibility of a decrease in the amount of assigned aid as another consequence of the economic crisis which provokes a reduction of revenues of developed countries. In what concerns debt “sustainability”, some progresses are reported, given the 2008 data showing that 35 out of 40 eligible countries were receiving debt relief and some 24 out of these received a commitment of $ 23.6 billion through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). Despite the fact that 13 out of 22 countries in post-completion of HIPC are still classified as being at high risk of debt distress, both HIPC and MDRI should be completed to try to ensure that target 8.B is reached, and adding to this it is recommended that all debt relief be additional to ODA – since these are two different commitments – in view of the successful reaching of the target’s aims.