'International Finance Facility an exciting and pragmatic initiative’, says Methodist Church

Aid agencies and faith organisations met last week to discussthe International Finance Facility (IFF). The programme, abrainchild of Gordon Brown's Treasury, seeks to reinvigorate theMillennium Development Goals.

The internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals - tohave every child in education, to reduce infant mortality by twothirds and maternal mortality by three quarters, and to halfpoverty by 2015 - have floundered due to the failure of the biggovernmental donors to produce the promised increase in aid money.But if enough donor countries adopt the IFF it will double theamount of development aid from just over $50 billion a year todayto $100 billion per year in the years to 2015.

The IFF would release new private sector money on the strengthof guarantees from rich country Governments. The more Governmentsare persuaded to join the scheme, the greater the potentialbenefit. The IFF would provide, for the first time, a predictableand stable flow of aid to help finance investment to meet theMillennium Goals. Further, grants would be directed towardscountries where poverty is greatest. These countries wouldtherefore see aid resources increase to at least three timescurrent levels between now and 2015.

The Chancellor has specifically asked for the support of theChurches in winning international support for his initiative. InOctober 2003 the President of the Methodist Conference co-chaired aseminar on the IFF for various Church leaders to explore theproposals in detail with the Treasury and other interestedparties.

Steve Hucklesby, Secretary for International Affairs,participated in that seminar and represented the Methodist Churchat the most recent meeting. He said: "The gathering of aid agenciesand faith organisations concluded that the International FinanceFacility was an exciting and pragmatic initiative that provides theG8 leaders an opportunity to make significant difference topoverty."

However, he stressed that the IFF needs to be promoted alongsidedemands for economic justice. In many instances, debt relief mightbe more efficient and effective than aid money in achievinglong-term relief from poverty. He added: "The G8 need not just anew project but also a new resolve to tackle aid, trade justice anddebt. Only then can we hope to release developing economies from adependant relationship on the West."

The Methodist Church, MAYC World Action and MRDF will workalongside aid agencies leading up to UK's hosting of the G8 in June2005. Building on the Chancellor's appeal for more seriouscommitment to the Millennium Development Goals, we will encourageGordon Brown and G8 leaders to achieve comprehensive economicjustice for those in developing countries.