Former archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu has spoken out against the proposed cuts in development aid by the Dutch government. The retired bishop said the loss was particularly great given the leading role the Netherlands plays in helping developing countries.
Bishop Tutu sent a letter to Dutch newspaper Trouw on Tuesday. “It seems as if the Netherlands has reached a turning point in answering the international challenges pertaining to poverty and injustice,” he said. “If that’s true, then this is bad news for the more than one billion people who live in abject poverty.”
The 81-year-old South African bishop said the Netherlands had earned an enviable reputation as a pioneer in development aid, which amounted to 0.7 percent of national income. “It would come as a hard blow if the world were to lose such a respected guide.”
Aid slashed to reduce deficit
At the end of March, the Dutch conservative/Christian Democrat coalition government and Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party reportedly agreed to slash development aid by one billion euros during negotiations on reducing the 2013 budget deficit to within EU limits.
Each year, the Dutch spend 4.6 billion euros on development aid. The one-billion euro cutback amounts to more than 20 percent of the total budget, reducing the Dutch contribution to less than 0.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The United Nations norm is 0.7 percent.
Desmond Tutu rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. He was the first black archbishop of Cape Town and South Africa. He uses his high profile to fight social injustice, AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty and racism.
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