International development (COS/MFA)

Speech in Parliament during the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

International development is a form of foreign aid that seeks to improve the lives of people in developing countries, while at the same time furthering a country’s foreign policy goals.

It has not traditionally played a very visible role in our foreign relations strategies, apart from technical assistance programmes that we provide to developing countries. This is unlike most other developed countries that have dedicated international development agencies and sometimes even a cabinet minister in charge.

In 2013, Singapore contributed $26.7 million in overseas development assistance (or ODA), which includes technical assistance programmes, and scholarships and tuition grants to foreign students. Can the Minister share what other forms of ODA Singapore contributes that are not captured in this amount?

Many developed countries in the United Nations have committed to target an ODA contribution of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI). What is Singapore’s ODA as a percentage of GNI?

While I don’t expect Singapore to target 0.7%, are there plans to increase our ODA contribution in the future?

Does the Government see international development as a cost-effective way of furthering our foreign policy goals?

Given the multifaceted nature of international relations today, what is the role the Government sees international development playing in the years ahead?

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.