Putting Progress at Risk?

MDG spending in developing countries

Publication date: 16 May 2013
Author: Matthew Martin, Director of Development Finance International

Thirty-two months remain to the deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals. This report is the first ever to track what developing countries are spending on the MDGs.

It finds that recent spending increases explain the rapid progress on the MDGs. But the vast majority of countries are spending much less than they have promised, or than is needed – for example, on wages for teachers and nurses, and maintenance of water facilities – to achieve the MDGs or their potential successor post-2015 goals. Aid cuts, low implementation rates and low recurrent spending all threaten to reverse existing progress.

This Government Spending Watch report suggests that developing countries need to make data on MDG spending more accessible to their citizens; to strengthen policies for revenue mobilisation (notably combating tax avoidance and tax havens), debt and aid management; and to spend more on agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, and social protection.

Donors need to report and repatriate illicit outflows; end laws and investment treaties which reduce poor countries’ revenues; increase innovative financing such as financial transaction and carbon taxes; put more aid through developing country budgets; maximise budget and sector support to make spending more accountable; and report planned disbursements to developing countries.

The IMF needs to sharply increase space for sustainable spending in its programmes. The post-2015 framework should set targets for spending on social protection, gender and sustainable development including climate change. Only by implementing these measures can the global community reach the ‘World We Want’.