NZ foreign aid increase good but more needed
The umbrella group for New Zealand's NGOs welcomes Budget foreign aid increase but says this country still needs to up its game.
New Zealand's Council for International Development says it is pleased to see more money for foreign aid but says this country is lagging behind most of its peers.
The New Zealand Government announced a year ago aid would increase from this year, by $US161 million dollars spread over the next 3 years, and this was confirmed in yesterday's Budget announcement.
CID is the umbrella for non government organisations working in the aid sector, and its director, Wren Green told Don Wiseman that New Zealand continues to languish down the OECD league table.
WREN GREEN: It's really good to see that the amount of aid is increasing given there are those constraints on budget expenditure, but then we have to look at that in the wider context of how much money is actually being spent. You have to compare us with other well-off nations and compared to the other OECD countries, we're unfortunately still in the bottom half and we have been there for decades now.
DON WISEMAN: Yes, and in fact we slipping back aren't we. We're talking about this 0.7 of one percent of GNI and New Zealand did have a plan at one point to get up I think around 0.35, but slipping back.
WG: We have slipped back slowly over recent years. This will bring us up a bit but then as New Zealand overall economy grows then that percentage will slip back again. So I think it's worth looking at it in the context of what this means per person. And the aid that we currently spend works out at a bit over one takeaway coffee per kiwi per fortnight, and I think we can really do better than that.
DW: A key thing I suppose for an organisation like yours, you work with a lot of NGOs that are at the coal face in terms of dealing with some fairly gritty issues in the Pacific is this dramatic swing in the New Zealand aid over recent years towards sustainable economic development and whether or not there's enough money available for those who perhaps really need it.
WG: The thing that our members keep on stressing is that economic development is underpinned by a number of other really, really important sectors where they work - improving health, improving education facilities, thinking about how to help really poor communities, how to help them establish businesses which are going to make them far more self-reliant and dealing with those situations that really need that aid to be very carefully targeted to what their really fundamentally baseline needs are.
DW: How do you assess or how do you scrutinise just where this money is going?
WG: The money, it goes to lots of different countries and I think one can have a look at how different countries have managed to do their own development as measured by what's happening with the Millenium Development Goals and then it's very easy to see which countries need more help. The aid money certainly recognised that more money needs to be spent in Melanesia and Melanesian expenditure has gone up. And that's good to see. And indeed it needs to go up even further. And at the same time our government really has to be pretty clear about the impacts of trade negotiations in the Pacific and how that's impacting the ability of Pacific countries to grow their own economies on their own terms and improve their own trading capacities as well.
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