Rich nations shy away from bold aid promises

Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:29pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren and Gernot Heller

HUNTSVILLE, Ontario (Reuters) - Rich countries shied away from making bold aid pledges at a Group of Eight meeting on Friday, mindful of their own tight budgets and past broken promises.

The wealthy nations pledged $5 billion over five years to reduce deaths among mothers and their newborns in Africa.

But they have already failed to live up to an ambitious promise from five years ago to double aid by up to $50 billion by 2010. The donors delivered only two-thirds -- or an estimated $18 billion -- of the money they agreed on at a 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was confident the G8 would meet the more modest goal. The host promised to contribute $1.1 billion to the total.

"Because of the tight budgetary situations we are seeing in many countries ... my observation is that leaders have actually been very very cautious in terms of the pledges that have been made," he told a news conference.

"I don't think you will again see leaders go out and make pledges that they don't intend to keep or that they haven't really thought about thoroughly," he added.

G8 and development officials said the G8 summit in Huntsville, north of Toronto, would omit any reference to the unfulfilled Gleneagles pledges when it issues its final communique on Saturday.

While the group collectively broke its aid promises, the United States, Britain and Canada delivered what they promised in Gleneagles. Italy delivered none of its funding, while Germany, France and Japan gave less than promised, said anti-poverty group ONE, which tracks the aid.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (L) greets U.S. President Barack Obama at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, June 25, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young</p>