Total outlays for foreign economic programs, including development aid, are projected to increase modestly in fiscal 1980 and for the few years beyond, an outcome that Carter Administration officials concerned with these programs labeled "encouraging" in view of the generally austere Federal budget.
Total outlays for fiscal 1980 for all international affairs are estimated at $8.3 billion, up from $7.3 billion, the major increase being a $470 million step-up for the Export-Import Bank, part of the Administration's new commitment to stimulating exports and trimming the trade deficit.
The budget authority for foreign economic and financial assistance for fiscal 1980 shows an increase from $7.0 billion to $8.3 billion. However the increase is distorted by a $3.6 billion request for U.S. contributions to the World Bank and other multi-lateral development banks, in theory up 44 per cent from fiscal 1979. But half of the $3.6 billion is for money that can be called in by the banks at any time which does not become a budget expenditure item.
About $1 billion of the $3.6 billion represents funds pledged in prior years to these banks, but still unappropriated by Congress. Carter implored Congress to make good on these pledges, noting that other industrialized countries were picking up an increasing share of the costs of foreign aid.
C. Fred Bergsten, Assistant Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs, pointed out in an interview that "in a period of austerity, the multi-lateral approach looks all the better for development aid, because of the leverage it supplies. For every dollar we put in, others come up with about three dollars."
No funds in this budget are provided for increases in the International Monetary Fund, the latter being a transaction outside the budget.
On the bi-lateral aid front, the budget for the Agency for International Development (AID) is boosted from $1.175 billion in fiscal 1979 to $1.316 billion in fiscal 1980, most of the increase being for the poorest nations in Africa and the Asian sub-continent.
Security supporting assistance, administered by AID, is budgeted at about $2 billion, or the same as fiscal 1979. Most of these funds go to the Middle East.
Over-all, officials conceded, there has been a slight decrease in the total programming goal for development assistance, bilateral and multilateral taken together. In contrast to a $10 billion level for fiscal 1982, widely anticipated in the Carter Administration last year, the target appeears to have slipped about a year. For fiscal 1982, such programs add up to about $8.6 billion.
"But when you consider the 'bath' taken by domesic programs," said a President adviser, "we got about as much as we could have hoped for."