ODA budget cut by 10%, Afghan aid included.
The government approved Monday a 10% cut in Japan's foreign aid to developing countries in its fiscal 2002 budget, but included in it some extra funding for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
The budget for the year starting April 1 allocates 910.6 billion yen for official development assistance (ODA), down 104.6 billion yen or 10.3% from the initial budget for the current fiscal year which runs through March.
The amount represents the third straight year that the budget for Japan's foreign aid has been reduced and its first dip below the 1 trillion yen mark since fiscal 1992.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's cabinet endorsed the final budget plan at a meeting Monday and will present it as part of the fiscal 2002 budget totaling 81.23 trillion yen for approval to an ordinary Diet session to be convened in January.
A 10% cutback in ODA had been planned since the summer when the 13 government organizations handling ODA budgets were asked to make requests bearing the overall reduction rate in mind. The cut is intended to spur efficiency of ODA projects amid Japan's fiscal difficulties.
The government, meanwhile, approved more funding to support Afghanistan and its neighboring countries, including 12 billion yen for a new type of grant aimed at conflict prevention and peace building in the war-torn nation.
Allocations were also upped from the current fiscal year for emergency grants to assist Afghan refugees and support the reconstruction of Afghanistan as well as contributions to international organizations in their Afghan-related efforts.
Japan has already pledged $300 million (about 39 billion yen) in grants to Pakistan over the next two years, emergency aid worth 240 million yen to Tajikistan and $120 million (15.6 billion yen) for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
More pledges are expected to come when Japan hosts an international conference on Afghan reconstruction Jan. 21-22 in Tokyo or in follow-up meetings aimed at discussing what donors can contribute to the process of rebuilding the country.
Due to the spending on Afghan-related issues, other areas in the ODA budget had to be reduced as the overall figure turned out smaller than the combined requested amount.
The ODA allocation requests from the 13 pertinent government organizations for fiscal 2002 submitted in August amounted to 918.12 billion yen, down 9.6% from the initial budget of 1.02 trillion yen for the current fiscal year.
Compared with its request of 506.4 billion yen, the Foreign Ministry, now in charge of all dealings involving Afghan-related aid, received a larger 538.9 billion yen in the final budget, while the Finance Ministry's request for ODA was slashed by nearly 13.7% to 262.3 billion yen.
In comparison with the budget for fiscal 2001, the Foreign Ministry will see a 3.2% reduction in its ODA budget, while the Finance Ministry's share will be cut by 22.3%.
The allotment for financing low-interest yen loans provided by the governmental Japan Bank for International Cooperation saw its biggest drop yet at 23.0% from the current fiscal year's initial budget, down to 219.1 billion yen.
Due to the reduction for the budget for the soft yen loans, the government will have to scale back new pledges for yen loans in the future, especially for China where a good bulk of such assistance had been directed.
In other breakdowns of ODA spending for next fiscal year, the government allotted 239.1 billion yen for grants, down 3.2%, 334.5 billion yen for technical cooperation for a decrease of 4.8%, and 118 billion yen for contributions to international organizations such as the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank, reduced by 10.8%.
The Foreign Ministry handles the biggest share of Japan's entire ODA budget, followed by the Finance Ministry. The Cabinet Office, eight other ministries and two agencies are also allocated relatively small shares of ODA budgets.
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|Publication:||Asian Political News|
|Date:||Dec 31, 2001|
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