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Bono, Geldof group blasts Italy on aid

'Utter failure' to meet Gleneagles pledge says pressure group

25 May, 17:03
Bono, Geldof group blasts Italy on aid (ANSA) - London, May 25 - Italy came under fire from pressure group One on Tuesday, less than a year after criticism over its failure to meet African aid pledges made at the 2005 Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. The charity fronted by rock musicians Bono and Bob Geldof issued a scathing condemnation of the Rome government in its annual assessment of donor countries' progress towards meeting aid commitments. "Italy is an utter failure as a member of the G7 and should not be considered as part of the collective commitment going forward," said the report. "Italy exists in a category of its own as the only G8 country to have retreated on its commitments, actually cutting development assistance compared with 2004". The 2005 summit saw the world's seven most industrialized nations promise to double aid to Africa on 2004 levels to 50 billion a year by 2010. According to the report, donors are 61% of the way towards meeting this target but this is no thanks to Italy, which has brought "the rest of the G7 average down with it", said One. The US, Canada and Japan have all "surpassed their modest targets", while only London is on track to meet the "much more ambitious targets" set by the UK, France and Germany.

The UK government has already achieved 93% of its pledge, while Berlin and Paris have so far delivered around 25% of what they promised.

Rome promised to increase its development aid from one billion euros in 2004 to 3.838 billion euros by 2010.

Its levels of aid have instead dropped by around 270 million euros on 2005 levels, said the report, "bringing the total level of its increases delivered to a pathetic -6%".

The charity reached a similarly damning verdict last year, when Italy held the rotating presidency of the G8.

Responding to the criticism in an interview with Bob Geldof published in Italian daily La Stampa last May, Premier Silvio Berlusconi vowed to remedy the situation.

"When a commitment is underwritten, then it must be kept and fulfilled. We are late, and must catch up with our pledges," he said.

"I am sorry we did not respect our promises, we are sorry we reduced aid to Africa, and for this reason we have opened a debate within the government". The premier promised to work with his economy minister on a recovery plan to put Italy back on track to meet its pledges by 2013.

There was no immediate reaction from the Italian government to Tuesday's statement from One.

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