Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Guardian: - Who is going to pay for the MDGs?


Aid alone is not enough, but transparency and accountability are essential
if tax revenues are to be used to plug the financing gap

MDG : Taxation to achieve MDG : School children receive food on the waterfront of the Makoko slum
School children receive food in the Makoko slum in Lagos, Nigeria. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP

When the millennium development goals (MDGs) were developed, estimates of their cost were used to argue that rich countries should give more aid. The estimates varied – in 2001, the UN suggested that achieving the goals would cost an extra $61bn. In 2002, the World Bank's chief economist for Africa, Shantayanan Devarajan, argued for $63-$72bn. In 2005, the Millennium Project pushed the figure up again, to between $82 and $152bn.

Yet economists recognised that all these estimates came with serious caveats. Jan Vandemoortele, one of the chief architects of the MDGs, suggested the only correct answer to questions about the cost of the MDGs is "more".

Last month, the OECD Development Centre published a report entitledRevisiting MDG Cost Estimates, in which it estimates that achieving the first six MDGs globally will require $120bn more to be spent every year on health, education and poverty reduction. It also argues that such a price tag is "unaffordable" if it is to be met from aid alone, at a time when donor countries' public finances are in trouble.

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