“Harsh” report slams Dutch foreign aid spending oversight

Unlike other budgets, the budget for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation does not include any performance information. It is therefore impossible to determine whether the 4.1 billion euros the Netherlands spends on an annual basis to help the poorest people in the world is spent effectively and it is unclear what exactly is achieved with that money. 

This is the "harsh" conclusions of a report by the Bureau for Research and Government Expenditure - a group of politically neutral civil servants working for the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament - which the Volkskrant has in its possession.

According to the report, the Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation budget lays "heavy emphasis on the size and distribution of money flows, and not on performance and achieved effects". As a result, the Kamer can not judge whether "goals were realized and presumed impacts were achieved."

The report points to the budget goal to give "more people access to AIDS drugs and contraceptives" as an example. It "lacks targets to measure whether this coal was ever reached". Another example is the goal to get more girls educated. The budget shows that money was transferred to a local educational institution, but it is unclear whether or how often the girls go to school and if they finish their education.

The Tweede Kamer will discuss this report on Monday. According to the newspaper, Minister Lilianne Ploumen can expect to face a barrage of questions.

A spokesperson for responsible minister Lilianne Ploumen told the Volkskrant that the minister can not comment on a report that has not been published yet. She does point out that the Ministry's budget has been assessed by the Inspectorate for Development Cooperation Policy Evaluation and the General court for years. "The vast majority of our efforts are judged positive by both, both in policy and financially", the spokesperson said. The spokesperson also pointed to the "results letter" sent to the Kamer earlier this month. It stated that last year Dutch development aid gave food and a better situation to nearly 8 million people.

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