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Friday, Jan. 20, 2006

New agency not needed to guide ODA policy: Aso


Staff writer

The government should set up a policy body under the prime minister to deliberate the use of official development assistance and not create a new agency, Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Thursday.

"It goes against the times to set up a big" agency, Aso told an audience at the Japan National Press Club. "I think it is more convenient to set up a compact meeting where major Cabinet ministers gather."

Aso said he envisioned the ministers discussing strategic uses of ODA and academics and other experts would take part when needed.

The government's advisory panel on foreign aid currently is discussing which party should handle foreign-aid loans. The panel is expected to make a decision by the end of March.

The Foreign Ministry is worried by a proposal from members of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy that an ODA agency under the prime minister be created, a move that would strip the ministry of a major diplomatic tool.

Aso said his ministry should take the lead in formulating ODA policy since it has the experience, knowledge and network when it comes to foreign aid.

He said the more than 100 diplomatic missions around the world that work with foreign-aid experts have a lot of experience on the issue.

"If we don't use (the diplomatic experience), it will be a waste of resources and lead to double investment," he said, adding that it would be too time-consuming if the government tried to create a organization from scratch to handle ODA.



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