ECONOMY

Bob Geldof promotes aid

Greece is now an economically prosperous country and places priority on the development of the wider region of SE Europe with significant investment, but must increase the amount of aid it gives to underdeveloped nations, humanitarian activist and rock star Sir Bob Geldof said yesterday. Speaking at a press briefing in Athens, he suggested that Greece, jointly with other small member states in the European Union, could undertake initiatives towards pressing the economically stronger partners to act on writing off the debt of underdeveloped countries and encourage investment in Africa. Geldof said he was against the maintenance of subsidies to European farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), as they have a negative impact on the competitiveness of African countries, whose products are liable to customs duties and are not supported by subsidies. «Each cow in Europe is subsidized with $2.5 a day, while each man in Africa is subsidized by the EU with $0.5 annually,» he said. Geldof also spoke late on Tuesday at an event on corporate social responsibility (CSR) organized in Athens by accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). He pointed out that the usual practise of politicians and entrepreneurs was always to promise but not always to meet their commitments, the result being either a negative impact on social groups that depend on them, or the implementation of programs doomed to fail because they are deficient. Geldof stressed that the contribution of companies to the funding of underdeveloped nations, in the framework of CSR, should not be exclusively tied to their level of profitability, for projects are often abandoned when profits decline. Geldof said PWC Greece had developed a CSR program for aid which could set the example, as it was focused and properly structured. Responding to questions, he said George W. Bush has been one of the most effective US presidents as regards the funding of aid programs for Africa, which had brought tangible results. He also praised British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his record in the field, while expressing the view that he will continue his efforts even after leaving Downing Street.