Radical cuts to Dutch development aid

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Business interests are to play a major role in the allocation of Dutch development aid. As of next year, development policy will focus on traditional areas of Dutch business expertise such as water management and agricultural programmes.

In a policy document quoted in , Deputy Foreign Minister Ben Knapen writes that spending on education and public health in third world countries will be drastically reduced. Mr Knapen also intends to reduce direct budgetary support to developing countries.

The deputy minister writes that the money is often spent inappropriately, or used to prop up corrupt regimes. Dutch development aid overall will be reduced from 0.8 percent of GDP to 0.7 percent, leading to a total of 1.9 billion euros in savings over the next four years. 

The cuts to the 2011 development budget will be evenly distributed among three categories: subsidies to private aid organisations, donations to international NGOs and aid programmes between the Netherlands and partner countries.

Deputy Minister Knapen wants to reduce the number of partner countries from the current number of 36 to less than 16. The minister will decide next year which countries are to lose their partner status. Insiders say the measure will lead to a reduction of the number of Dutch embassies, as many of them are directly involved in Dutch aid programmes.



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