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18 Apr 2006 : Column 529W—continued

Palestine

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which independent auditor has been responsible for reviewing the Palestinian Authority's annual financial statements in accordance with the terms of the Reform Trust Fund; and if he will make a statement. [63653]

Hilary Benn: The Palestinian Authority's annual financial statements have been reviewed by Price Waterhouse Coopers Ltd. This company was selected by international competitive tender.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations he has received from the Palestinian Authority regarding its commitment to reform benchmarks agreed with the World Bank; and if he will make a statement. [63654]

Hilary Benn: Progress against reform benchmarks agreed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) were most recently assessed by the World Bank in consultation with the PA, DFID and other donors in February 2006.
 
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The World Bank mission report noted that the PA had met eleven out of fourteen of its reform benchmarks and had made progress on the remaining three.

The PA had successfully established internal and external audit functions as well as internal controls on procurement and salary payments. However, work remained on pension reform and on a strategy to improve medium-term fiscal stability.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions he has had with his Quartet partners regarding the future of the Reform Trust Fund; and if he will make a statement; [63656]

(2) what discussions he has had with his (a) EU and (b) US counterparts regarding the provision and continuation of humanitarian and development support to the Palestinian people; and if he will make a statement. [63655]

Hilary Benn: On 30 January, the Quartet (the US, the EU, the UN and Russia) stated that aid to the future Palestinian government would be reviewed against the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel's right to exist and commitment to the peace process. The Quartet noted on 30 March, that the new Government had not committed to these principles and that this would inevitably lead to an effect on direct assistance to that Government.

In these circumstances the UK Government cannot provide direct financial support to the Palestinian cabinet or its ministries through the Reform Trust Fund or by other means. However, we will continue to do all that we can to support the basic needs of the Palestinian people. We are working with other the main donors to establish the most effective mechanisms for this.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to his answer of 21 March 2006, Official Report, columns 187–8W, on Palestine, what conclusions have been drawn from the review process on how best to support poverty reduction for the Palestinians in the context of the outcome of the recent Palestinian legislative elections; and if he will make a statement. [63800]

Hilary Benn: On 30 March the Quartet (the US, the EU, the UN and Russia) noted that the new Palestinian Government have not yet complied with the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel's right to exist and commitment to the peace process. Without progress against the Quartet's conditions, the UK Government cannot provide direct financial support to the Palestinian cabinet or its ministries. Projects with Palestinian Ministries have been suspended or re-oriented to focus on other partners. DFID is also working with other major donors to establish the most effective mechanism to meet the basic needs of the Palestinian people without providing funding through the Palestinian Government.

Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's employer contribution rates to the Principal Civil
 
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Service pension scheme are; what assumed rate of return underlies those contribution rates; and what the contribution rate would be if the assumed rate of return was in line with current redemption yield on index-linked gilts. [62002]

Mr. Thomas: I refer the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge to the response given by my hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office, (Mr. Murphy) on 29 March 2006, Official Report, columns 1030–1031W.

Rwanda

Ed Balls: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the literacy rates are in Rwanda; and how this has changed in the last 10 years. [54805]

Hilary Benn: Estimations of literacy in Rwanda vary considerably. Based on the 2000 national Household Living Conditions Survey (HLCS), which recorded a literacy rate of 52.4 per cent., and the 2002 population census, we estimate the current literacy rate to be between 55–60 per cent. The HLCS records lower literacy rates for women—47.79 per cent. compared to 58.06 per cent. for men. There is very little comparable national data on literacy available for the last 10 years: international statistics suggest that literacy rates may have fallen between 1990 and 1996 from 53.3 per cent. (Global Monitoring Report) to 48 per cent. (UNDP Human Development Report) but they have now surpassed pre-genocide levels. Higher rates of youth literacy (15–24 years) suggest a positive trajectory for the future. The 2006 HLCS, due to report in 2007, should supply more up to date statistics.
Literacy rates—Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006

Percentage
Adult literacy rate (15 years and over)
1990
Total53.3
Male62.9
Female44.0
2000–04
Total69.2
Male75.3
Female63.4
Youth literacy rate (15 to 24 years)
1990
Total72.7
Male78.0
Female67.4
2000–04
Total84.9
Male86.3
Female83.6

Tanzania

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the United Nations concerning the provision of aid in drought stricken regions of Tanzania. [63133]


 
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Hilary Benn: DFID's response to the drought is based on the Government of Tanzania's requests for assistance to the donor community. In February, the Government of Tanzania requested the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to co-ordinate an immediate programme of distribution of seed and pesticides to the worst affected parts of the country. DFID Tanzania has provided £700,000 of assistance to this programme. Seeds, pesticides and livestock inoculations are now being purchased and distributed, and are reaching those most in need.

The Government of Tanzania also requested the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations to plan a medium-term Emergency Operation to distribute 34,000 metric tons of free food aid to 565,000 of the most vulnerable people from mid May to September. These figures are now being reviewed by the Government of Tanzania, the WFP and the FAO. DFID and other donors will consider providing further emergency support for drought relief in Tanzania, subject to the recommendations of this review.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the amount of food aid required to prevent famine in Tanzania before the May harvest. [63161]

Hilary Benn: DFID, in line with other donors, has based its assessment of what aid is required on the Government of Tanzania's own figures. In February, following a rapid vulnerability analysis, the Government of Tanzania requested assistance from the international community with the provision of 100,000 metric tonnes of food assistance. Of this, 34,000 tonnes would be distributed as free food aid to 565,000 vulnerable people over a five-month period, beginning in mid May. The Government also requested immediate assistance in the form of seed and pesticides. In response, the UK has provided £700,000 to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) for a programme of seed distribution, pesticide and livestock inoculation. In the longer term, DFID is helping the Government of Tanzania to address the root causes of poverty and food insecurity for its most vulnerable citizens.

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding the Government have committed to provide to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN in each of the next three years; what funding it provided to the Agency in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [62212]

Mr. Thomas: The United Kingdom has paid the following assessed contributions for the core budget of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) over the last three years:
£ million
200311.23
200412.05
200511.94









 
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The Government is committed to paying assessed contributions over the next three years as follows:
£ million
200613.75
200713.75
2008(235)


(235) No commitment as FAO's budget for the biennium for 2008–09 has not yet been approved by FAO's governing body. The commitments for 2006 and 2007 are approximate and may vary.


In addition to the assessed contributions, the Government provides funding to and through the FAO for specific activities and programmes. Detailed information on these contributions is not held centrally and to gather it would involve incurring a disproportionate cost.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the work of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, with particular reference to meeting the millennium development goals. [62213]

Mr. Thomas: The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has an important contribution to make to the achievement of the Millennium Developments Goals, especially the target of reducing hunger by half by 2015. Evidence from assessments carried out by DFID and others shows that the FAO does much useful work to a very high professional standard; but it also shows that urgent reforms are needed to improve the FAO's efficiency and effectiveness, to ensure that it focuses its resources on the right priorities and to enable the FAO to play its full part in the wider reform of the United Nations system. The FAO's governing bodies have recently launched a comprehensive Independent External Evaluation (IEE) of the FAO to strengthen the evidence base and to help to generate consensus on what needs to be done to improve the FAO's performance in discharging its mandate and contributing to the Millennium Development Goals. DFID has pledged up to £300,000 towards the costs of the IEE.


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