Posts Tagged ‘development aid’

Liberals’ Løkke Rasmussen forms small minority government, publishes work plan

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 30th June 2015

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the leader of Venstre, the Danish liberals, has formed a small minority government of 17 ministers, who took office yesterday. The government has published its work plan and used its first day in office to reinstate a tax credit scheme for homeowners making improvements or getting maintenance and gardening work carried out.

Following several days of negotiations with other parties, mainly with the Danish People’s Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Alliance (the other three parties in the blue bloc on the right), after the parliamentary election on 18th June, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the leader of Venstre, the Danish liberals, has formed a small minority government of 17 ministers, who took office yesterday.

With just 34 seats out of the 179 in Folketinget, the Danish parliament, Løkke Rasmussen and his party must negotiate with other parties to find a majority position in most legislative areas – aptly illustrated yesterday afternoon, when Claus Hjort Frederiksen, the new minister of finance, announced that Venstre, the Danish People’s Party (DPP) and the Conservatives, on the right wing, had agreed with the Socialist People’s Party (SF), on the left wing, and the centre-left party the Alternative to reinstate a tax credit scheme, killed off by the now deposed Social Democratic-Social Liberal coalition government from 1st January 2015, for homeowners making improvements or getting maintenance and gardening work carried out. The scheme will be changed later this year, however, so it has a greener profile in the future and will also apply to people who rent their accommodation, pleasing SF and the Alternative.

Parliament will be recalled this week for a brief session when the new government will also table a bill with measures – predominantly financial – to make Denmark a less attractive target for asylum-seekers and refugees. The aim is to reduce the number of people coming to Denmark for asylum.

Something that DPP and the parties in the blue bloc agree on, this will be accompanied at some time by a ‘pronounced strengthening of the control at the borders’ in order to fight crime and illegal immigration, another political requirement from DPP that forms part of the new government’s work plan.

The government also plans to reduce income taxes, to make it more attractive for people to work, and it will not increase other taxes. It will introduce a cap on certain transfer incomes to the unemployed, measures to encourage people not currently saving in a non-state pensions scheme, and measures to speed up diagnosis and initial treatment of illnesses.

A referendum on the Danish opt-out on justice and home affairs in the European Union, planned by the previous government, will be bought forward and will be held before Christmas 2015.

A commission currently looking into the background for Denmark’s participation (under Venstre’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2003) in the USA-led military invasion of Iraq, and the behaviour of Danish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be disbanded. They money saved will be earmarked for improvements to the conditions of Danish veterans.

The government will also appoint ‘an experienced, respected person with international views’ to find strategic ways of coordinating Denmark’s policies in security and defence, foreign affairs, trade and development aid.

Danish development aid will be cut to 0.7% of gross national income from 0.85%, and the number of countries to receive the aid will be reduced.

Click here for the list of ministers (in Danish) in the new government.

Empowering women in developing countries is “smart economics” but faces challenges

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 25th March 2010

Empowering women in developing countries is “smart economics” that gives them jobs, helps them contribute to economic growth, and promotes greater liberty and democracy. But there are challenges that must be overcome before success is achieved.

Empowering women in developing countries in a way that gives them employment is “smart economics”. Not only does this give them jobs and help them contribute to economic growth, it is a route to combat poverty and a movement towards greater liberty and democracy. But there are challenges that must be overcome before success is achieved.

Such was the message delivered at today’s conference on women’s empowerment and employment, arranged by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Part of the ministry’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) series, the meeting was a precursor for the United Nations’ MDG high-level meeting in New York in September, which will assess the extent to which the millennium goals are being implemented.

Across the developing world, far more women continue to be out of the labour market than men, according to the Millennium Development Goals report from 2009. Northern Africa and western Asia have exceptionally low female employment-to-population ratios, and only about 20% of working-age women are employed in the most important sectors here, industry and services.

Overall, almost two-thirds of all employed women have vulnerable jobs, either as contributing family workers or as own-account workers, yet MDG 1 has a target that aims at full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people, while MDG 3 aims at promoting gender equality and empowering women.

But there are many barriers to success in reaching these goals, and the world economic crisis has delayed progress – and even reversed developments by five or six years.

We must empower women for them to gain their rights and promote economic growth,” Søren Pind, Denmark’s recently appointed Minister for Development Cooperation, told the conference.

Pind added that a new draft for Denmark’s development cooperation has five focus areas, including gender equality and boosting the position and status of women.

Through economic growth we can try to help and empower women, and that helps combat poverty,” Pind said.

Empowering women is smart economics,” said Robert E Zoellick, the president of the World Bank group.

Various reports indicate that improving women’s situation can benefit society in ways that transcend the direct benefits to individual women. Women’s independent earnings improve the well-being of their families and communities, reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth. Higher income for women and better access to and control over their resources lead to better health and nutrition for children. In Bangladesh, access to micro-finance increases household consumption when the borrower is a woman, and access to credit also improves children’s health and nutrition.

While noting that women “can be driving forces in economic growth”, Zoellick added, “Women and girls are hit first by economic downturns.”

The world economic crisis means that micro-finance institutions – many of which lend money on very favourable terms to entrepreneurial women in developing countries – are now seeing that their customers are having difficulties repaying their loans, and the institutions may also face problems raising the new capital needed for their work, Zoellick added.

Helen Clark, the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), warned that there are very serious challenges to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. These challenges include classic areas of dispute such as rich versus poor, urban versus rural and men versus women.

But, Clark underlined, “Investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect across the Millennium Development Goals and expands the economic possibilities and employment of women. Women’s legal skills and situation must be strengthened in terms of their rights and to enable them to take part in decision-making processes, including in national legislatures.” This would ensure greater equality.

Carsten Staur, Denmark’s ambassador to the United Nations, summed up the recommendations from the conference discussions in five themes:

  • Economic empowerment of women as a rights’ issue and as smart economics.
  • Expansion of women’s entrepreneurship opportunities.
  • Creation of opportunities to overcome social and cultural barriers.
  • Priority for women’s health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • Voice and political participation.

Staur will be presenting the recommendations at the MDG high-level meeting in September.