No to aid money for free World Cup press trip

15 June 2010

No to aid money for free World Cup press trip

The SP is urging Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen to put an immediate stop to subsidies, paid for out of the budget for development aid, for journalistic jollies to the World Cup. In a written parliamentary question, SP Members of Parliament Ewout Irrgang and Jasper van Dijk today called on the minister to act to stop such trips.

FIFA 2010 World Championship It emerged yesterday that fourteen journalists from the daily newspaper De Pers have received a subsidy of €40,000 from the National Commission for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO) to travel to the World Cup in South Africa. Completely financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the NCDO is an organisation whose function is to generate support for development cooperation. The trip's ostensible intention is to create more understanding and increase knowledge of South Africa's development. Ewout Irrgang is unconvinced: "I have serious doubts about that," he says. "A perfectly ordinary supplement full of gossip about such matters as the so-called Bavaria Babes was funded out of this budget, for instance. What on earth has that to do with South Africa's development? The money also covered the costs of a designer who drew up the pages on the spot and a sub-editor who, also in situ, checked them for errors. Did they have to fly half way across the world to do that? Why couldn't they just do it as is usual in the editorial offices in the Netherlands?"

Irrgang argues that subsidies to journalistic production must be drastically limited, not only because of the waste of money but in order that journalistic independence be maintained. Subsidising this sort of 'jolly' from the aid budget is hardly an effective form of development cooperation. "It's a total waste of money," he says. "For the same sum hundreds of people could be given a year's supply drugs to arrest the development of Aids, a real plague in South Africa."

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