Bill Gates concerned about Dutch aid cuts

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US billionaire Bill Gates is so worried about the new round of cuts in the Dutch development cooperation budget that he telephoned Dutch public broadcaster NOS to express his concern. He fears that if the Dutch cut the aid budget to developing countries other countries will follow.

According to the NOS, it was Mr Gates who took the initiative to phone the news station. He said:

“Dutch voters should be very proud of their generosity and the aid. By buying vaccines they are saving lives. Take things like the global fund that have had a huge effect keeping people alive through AIDS drugs. By being generous to the point seven level, they are setting an example to the world that other countries are moving towards. They should understand the benefits to the poor. Their generosity has been quite fantastic.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is currently negotiating a new round of cuts on top of the 18 billion euros already planned. The negotiations are between the two coalition parties, Mark Rutte’s VVD and the Christian Democrats with the Freedom Party (PVV) which supports the minority coalition party in parliament. The Freedom Party wants to axe the aid budget, however the Christian Democrats oppose cuts in this area. To ensure the Dutch budget deficit remains under the European norm of 3 percent, the Dutch government would need to cut another 9.6 billion euros.

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He goes on to say: "I'd be disappointed if in reducing the budget deficit the poorest in the word were getting less generosity. Obviously it is up to the voters to decide, but countries like the UK which have even bigger deficits are moving towards 0.7 percent.

The founder of Microsoft told the NOS: “I have seen on the ground what a difference aid makes. And that is why I am spending 100 percent of my money through the foundation to help the poorest of the world on the same kind of causes as the Dutch voters have backed like the global fund and helping poor farmers"

For instance Bill Gates named Dutch aid for making and distributing cheap vaccines for diseases and the distribution of malaria nets.

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Geert Wilders leader of the Freedom Party wants the budget cut by 4 billion euros, which is practically the whole budget leaving only a small fund for emergency aid. According to the NOS, Bill Gates says this would not be a good idea as most deaths are caused by a lack of vaccines.

The Dutch aid budget is 4.6 billion euros (0.7 percent of the Gross National Product).  According to the NOS the 0.7 percent of GNP was set by OESO in the 1970s.

Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have been involved in charity work in developing countries for many years.

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