U.S. Foreign Assistance To Focus on Long-Term Development

By Kathryn McConnell
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington – The president’s budget request for the fiscal year beginning October 1 would focus U.S. foreign aid on the long-term development of countries that govern justly and democratically, invest in education and health care and support poverty reduction and economic progress, says Randall Tobias, director of U.S. foreign assistance.

The United States must focus its aid efforts on developing countries most likely to move towards self-sufficiency, he told the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA) meeting February 21 in Washington.

Tobias said the $20.3 billion the Bush administration is requesting for foreign aid spending for the next fiscal year (FY08) would target helping individual countries move from depending on foreign aid to eliminating barriers with the goal of making their economies stronger and their governments more effective.

The FY08 request is a 12 percent increase over the fiscal year 2006 enacted level, the last year for which such data are available, he said.

Tobias, who also serves as the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said the FY08 foreign aid budget recognizes that global stability and prosperity are linked closely to U.S. security.

The FY08 budget proposal allocates $4.4 billion for Africa, focused on addressing disease and poverty, representing a fourfold increase in annual spending on Africa during the Bush administration.

For the Western Hemisphere, it seeks $1.6 billion for aid for economic growth programs and for developing institutions that support democratic processes.

The request would provide $6.88 billion for counterterrorism and counternarcotics activities and $2.12 billion to relieve human suffering and to respond to destabilizing humanitarian disasters.

The proposed budget allocates $4.5 billion for the President's Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), $388 million for the President's Malaria Initiative and $535 million to support equitable access to education and to improve the quality of basic education around the world.

Under the proposal, some countries would receive increased aid while others less compared to current levels of support, but none of the 155 countries currently receiving U.S aid is proposed to be cut more than 20 percent, Tobias said.

Also that day, James Kunder, USAID's acting deputy administrator, said economic growth in Afghanistan is moving forward at "a brisk pace."

Kunder, who had just returning from Afghanistan, said he attended the opening of an industrial park housing 35 small factories outside of Kabul, a focal point for job creation. Another such industrial center is expected to open soon in the Kandahar area, he said.

Kunder said USAID is helping to build Afghanistan's infrastructure so it can attract more investments in other job-creating businesses.

He also said "democracy is thriving" in Afghanistan and that the parliament is "vibrant" with men and women of all ethnic groups discussing issues of importance to the country.

For additional information, see Rebuilding Afghanistan.