If the Netherlands does cut its international development aid budget, it will be a heavy blow, Desmond Tutu writes in a letter to Trouw on Tuesday.
The 81-year-old archbishop, who did so much to foster reconciliation in his native South Africa when apartheid ended, says the Netherlands has always played a leading role in development aid.
‘But now it seems the country has reached a turning point in its approach to the international challenge of poverty and inequality,’ he writes. ‘If that’s true, it’s bad news for the over one billion people who live in abject poverty.’
According to Tutu, the Netherlands has an enviable reputation for its role as a pioneer in development aid and still makes a respectable contribution in giving 0.7% of its national income.
Development aid is under threat because of the need to save at least a further €9bn in order to bring down the country’s deficit to the 3% demanded by eurozone rules. According to some reports, the government has agreed to slash €1bn of the €4.6bn aid budget.
Last month, Microsoft founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates called on the Netherlands not to cut its development aid budget, with interviews and columns in several Dutch papers.
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