Element 2 (government money only) seems odd to people…why does the money have to come from the government? Why can’t the private sector or the public give? Of course, they can — but the OECD won’t count those totals towards a country’s ODA levels. They track what governments do to help.
Some political people in the U.S. hate this rule because they want to claim the contributions of all the US-based charities who do development work. From a pure policy perspective, I find some resonance with that argument. The Nordics have a model that is very “government-led” and hence their ODA levels are high; by contrast, Canada and the U.S. have a different balance on the role of government and individuals, partly by history, partly by philosophy, and partly by what it means to reach a consensus with large diverse populations, and hence some of the roles are left to the private sector and the public. If the policy intent is to capture resource flows (element 1), shouldn’t you be interested in TOTAL resource flows from a country, whether they come directly from citizens or NGOs or indirectly through their government? The UK tax forms also included an option whereby people could donate their tax refunds to development spending — but the OECD wouldn’t let the UK count that as development money either since it wasn’t a “UK budget” item. Don’t even get development policy people started on whether or not they should be able to count immigrant remittances back home too.
But when the pundits of any stripe talk about development, they talk about official ODA levels, not what the country did as a whole. Just look at the recent humanitarian crises — matching funds set up by the government. Money given by individuals didn’t count as “aid”, only the “matched” total. So we know that the conversation is probably wrong before we even start — we should likely talk about total flows, not just official development flows.
Even with just these first two elements, how comfortable are you that you know what “development” is? You probably feel pretty good — because it looks like I’m only talking about “levels” and “reporting”. Certainly not about what we do or with whom, right?
On to part 3…