BY CHRISTINA FARRELL
HE HAS A REPUTATION for tough decisions and an implacable resolve and today the “Iron Chancellor” will press forward his case for the most disadvantaged nations in the world.
In a keynote speech at the Vatican, Chancellor Gordon Brown will outline his vision for an International Finance Facility (IFF) to substantially increase funding for the third world.
If adopted by governments worldwide it would more than double the global aid budget from £30 billion to over £65 billion a year, helping to relieve the poverty of poorer nations.
The scheme, which would involve selling Governmentbacked bonds on international capital markets, is the latest example of cooperation between the chancellor and the pope.
Treasury officials met with the Vatican before the formal launch of the scheme last November.
Mr Brown’s call for aid comes just one week after a senior Vatican diplomat urged the developed world to abandon self-interest in the “noble interest of the common good”.
Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, told the United Nations that the poor “cannot wait”.
She said it would be a scandal and a tragedy if the developed nations of the world did not help less developed countries and she called on the international community to channel financial support more effectively into “well-prepared, productive investments”.
Mr Brown, son of a Presbyterian minister, has developed close links with the Vatican during his tenure at the Treasury, and has helped to push forward some of the more enlightened aspects of government financial policy.
He has warned that unless efforts are stepped up to boost aid budgets the Millennium Development Goals on poverty – agreed by the UN in 2000 will not be met.
The chancellor believes the long-term nature of the IFF aid would allow nations to plan effectively. The scheme has the personal backing of John Paul II and key political figures including Nelson Mandela and the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan.
Cardinal Cormac MurphyO’Connor has also endorsed the IFF. He is scheduled to chair the morning session of the Vatican conference.
Aspokesman for the Cardinal said it was the moral duty of Catholics to work for the relief of suffering and the eradication of poverty in the world.
“This is an excellent opportunity to share with key politi cians and church leaders from all over Europe, a practical proposal that, as matters stand, is the last best hope of finding the resources needed to lift millions of people out of poverty,” the spokesman said.
The seminar will bring together politicians from developed and developing nations, including the key G8 countries and senior representatives of the international finance institutions, as well as Catholic development agencies and bishops’conferences.
Chris Bain, director of Cafod, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said even the most basic resources were being now denied to the world’s poor. “The IFF could provide the long-term resources that countries need to build health and the education systems,” Mr Bain said.
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