Bush’s Budget Request Would Continue Increase in Foreign Aid

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - U.S. foreign assistance could increase 12 percent in fiscal year 2008 from the enacted 2006 fiscal year levels as part of the $2.9 trillion budget plan President Bush has proposed, said Ambassador Randall Tobias. Tobias is director of U.S. foreign assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In remarks at the State Department February 5, Tobias said the Bush administration is seeking $20.3 billion for the 2008 fiscal year.

The United States has been “a leader in championing human dignity and human potential,” and its commitment to global development is evidenced by its level of development assistance “nearly tripling … from approximately $10 billion in 2000 to $28.5 billion in 2005.”

The 2008 budget request, which is subject to further action by the U.S. Congress, “continues that commitment, but it does so in what we believe is a much improved and much more strategic way,” Tobias said.

The amount does not include funding for security and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which will fall under the Bush administration’s separate proposed emergency supplement funding for the global war on terrorism.

Tobias said 51 percent of the State Department and USAID’s resources now are concentrated in rebuilding and developing activities. The fiscal year 2008 budget request includes a 20 percent increase in resources for “low and lower middle income countries.” 

The request – for the fiscal year that begins October 1 - also seeks a 54 percent increase in U.S. assistance to Africa.  “That will bring the total to a quadrupling of assistance to Africa during the course of this administration,” he said. 

During the same time period, the total aid for countries in the Western Hemisphere would double if the president’s funding request is approved unchanged, he said.

The 2008 proposed budget “carefully tailors funds to development needs to each individual country through a concentration of resources on those areas where we believe our assistance can make the most difference,” he said.

It is designed to address each country’s current challenges “in an integrated way that will better ensure that we have sustainability of these programs going forward.”

The president’s proposal lists Israel, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Indonesia and Kosovo among the top recipients of U.S. aid.  Tobias said that under the proposed budget, Israel and Egypt’s assistance levels are being reduced as stipulated under the 1978 Camp David agreement, and that many programs for India, which itself has become a donor country, would be cut under the proposed budget.

Brad Higgins, assistant secretary of state for resource management and chief financial officer for the State Department, said an additional $10.14 billion is being requested for State Department foreign operations such as security, services and maintenance of its more than 260 diplomatic missions around the world. 

Higgins said those services include educational and cultural exchange programs, as well as visa services for tourists or immigrants.