International public finance flows: 8 principles for transparent reporting
How much public money does your country send to other countries, and for what purposes? The short answer is: we don’t know. The only reliable figures are those for the aid provided to help developing countries, collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and called official development assistance.
Unfortunately, even these figures are confusing, as they include large amounts of money that never leave the donor country, such as administrative costs and and the costs of accommodating refugees. A better place to look than the headline-grabbing ODA figures is a less well-known measure, called country programmable aid which the OECD says is “a better estimate of the volume of [ODA] resources transferred to developing countries.”
But what about other official flows that don’t meet the tight definitions for ODA or CPA, such as public subsidies for international private investments, or military and security aid? The OECD collects information on “other official flows” but these are really a dumping ground for flows that donors have failed to persuade the Development Assistance Committee to include in their ODA statistics.
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