Thursday, April 26, 2012

Third World To Benefit From New Andorra Aid Policy

Helping write off Africa's debts and increasing financial assistance has increased in recent years, with awareness being raised throughout the developed world by Sir Bob Geldof.

The campaign to write off Africa's debts has been led politically by Britain's new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who as Chacellor of the Exchequer used his position to influence other G8 countries to follow Britain's lead.

But smaller countries have joined in with increased assistance, and notably the world's second smallest country, Monaco, has not only taken her UN responsibilities seriously, but led by Prince Albert has tried to persuade other countries to do the same.

One country that has followed Monaco's advice is fellow European tax haven Andorra.

Fifty years ago Andorra was one of Europe's poorest countries, but now counts among the wealthiest, thanks mainly to her tax haven status, but also her ski industry, which has seen as many as ten millions visitors in a year - pretty impressive for a country with a 70,000 population.

With the same tax benefits as Monaco, Andorra has also seen interest from UK high earners for her tax haven status, and are attracted by the property prices which average a quarter of Monaco's - a shrewd decision for those who are prepared to sacrifice Monaco's image for a tax haven that is well known for her winter sports activities between December and mid April.

Buyers from the UK in particular were out in force during April, May and June, with many spending twice as much on full time homes as the average ski apartment buyer.

One of the first moves Andorra is making is to have more diplomatic relations with countries in Africa, currently they only have them with South Africa, Morocco and Egypt.

But rather than have one ambassador for each country, they will have one to cover two or three countries, depending upon their geographical size and population. And rather than be based in Africa, they will be resident in Andorra, visiting the respective countries when necessary.

Believing that with new technology the new Ambassadors can effectively stay in Andorra will save money, money that can be used towards development rather than on salaries, expenses and embassy buildings.

Andorra has started already with her new development programme, and is helping to finance a safe water project in Mali, with more similar projects to come in the near future.

As well as financial and development aid, Andorra is keen too to encourage cultural links. Earlier this year Andorra played host to Senegal musician Ismael Lo, which was received enthusiastically in Andorra.

Although Andorra is a small European country, she is acknowledging her world responsibilities in a positive way.

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