Bob Geldof says Trudeau ‘unambitious’ on aid targets

Says Canada can do ``much, much, much, much more'' to help developing nations.

May 12, 2016   by Giuseppe Valiante

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has no excuse for failing to live up to Canada’s promise to spend 0.7% of its gross national income on foreign aid, musician and international anti-poverty activist Bob Geldof said.

For a country that largely escaped the economic meltdown in 2008, Canada can do “much, much, much, much more” to help developing nations – notably in Africa – “without an effort,” he said.

Geldof, who helped create the Live Aid concert in 1985 for Ethiopian famine relief and the 2005 Live 8 concerts to raise money for anti-poverty programs in Africa, was in Montreal to give a speech on the benefits of investing on the African continent.

He reacted to Trudeau’s remark earlier in the week that the goal of 0.7% for rich countries to spend on foreign aid – endorsed by the United Nations – is not realistic for this year or the next.

Trudeau called the target “too ambitious” for Canada.

In 2015, Canada spent 0.28% of its so-called gross national income on aid, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. That was up from 0.24% in the previous year, one of the lowest figures for Canada in more than a decade.

The overall international figure was 0.3%.

“It seems very unambitious for a man as ambitious as Trudeau to limit that,” Geldof told reporters after his speech to an audience of several hundred at a convention for international investors.

“Your economy is more than capable. You promised to do it and it’s really not up to the prime minister of any country to reverse the promise the people made, is it?”

Geldof added that Canada first proposed the 0.7% target in 1969 but never reached it.

“You guys invented it and you should be the ones living up to it,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Geldof told the investors he “just doesn’t get it,” why companies and countries aren’t spending more money and resources in Africa.

He said in 14 years there will be 2 billion people on the continent with the purchasing power of more than $2 trillion. He added the continent’s resource potential, including rich, arable land, will be unequivocally important for the 21st century.

“Where else will you go in the world that can offer you the kind of returns that Africa can?” he said.

During his speech he also called out Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian-born economist and author who is famous for her position that western governments are hurting Africa with direct aid.

She says the money makes the continent dependent on foreign governments and encourages corruption and nepotism.

Geldof said the continent needs aid money to sustain some governments “in order to let them breathe” as well as direct investment from international firms.

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