The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has restructured its budget. The Ministry’s budget proposal for 2019 is shorter and more concise than previously, and many allocations have been consolidated thematically.
The changes are intended to make the budget proposal more relevant to the decision-making process in the Storting (Norwegian parliament) and to make it easier to monitor the use of aid funding. The restructured budget will also be a better management tool for the Government and the ministries.
The restructuring has been done in response to a request made by the Storting in 2017. The process was started with last year’s budget proposal, and further changes have been made this year.
This year’s budget proposal is considerably shorter and more concise than before. The first part of the document describes the main priorities of the Ministry’s budget. The goals are formulated more clearly, the text explaining priorities has been made more pertinent and the reporting is clearer.
The budget structure has also been simplified, with fewer but more clearly defined chapters and items. The budget is still divided into two main programme areas, foreign policy (02) and aid (03). Various grant schemes related to foreign policy priorities have been consolidated in one budget chapter under programme area 02. In programme area 03, much more of the funding is allocated thematically rather than by country or region.
The structural changes and redistribution of funding between new chapters and items do not necessarily involve changes in where or how the funding will actually be used. For example, the specific regional allocation to Africa is substantially lower than in 2018. However, this is because a large proportion of the aid that goes to Africa from 2019 onwards will be part of the thematic allocations – for example for education, health, agriculture, business development and renewable energy.
The Government is proposing to increase the already high level of aid to least developed countries and countries in Africa in 2019. The white paper on partner countries in development policy published in June this year announced that Norway will be concentrating its development cooperation to a greater extent on selected countries. Ten of the proposed 16 partner countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.
The proposed allocation to countries and regions affected by conflict and fragility is almost doubled this year. A large proportion of this will go to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region.
Norway’s aid to Africa has risen in recent years, both as a proportion of aid funding and in real terms. The Government’s budget proposal for 2019 means in practice that aid to Africa will be more than NOK 2 billion higher than in 2016, which is an increase of more than 15%.