27 May 2004

New Zealand Government defends spending on overseas aid

8:23 pm on 27 May 2004

The Executive Director of New Zealand's Council for International Development, Rae Julian, says she is disgusted that the New Zealand Government has made only a minimal increase in its overseas aid spending.

In today's Budget, the Government allocated 163 million US dollars for oversea aid projects, an increase of nine million over last year.

The Government has previously committed to contribute point seven of a percent of its Gross National Income to overseas aid by 2015, but its current spend of point two four places it near the bottom among OECD members.

Rae Julian says given the huge Budget surplus, the aid communty expected the Government to be more generous.

The Aid Minister Marion Hobbs admits the point seven target is still a long way off but she says it would be ridiculous to have a sudden big increase.

"I think something that the New Zealand aid community has to take into consideration is that New Zealand Aid is a relatively new agency and I have said quite clearly to them - while I have argued for an increase and achieved an increase in the New Zealand aid budget two years running, it is in no fit state to suddenly have an increase of say 60 million dollars in a budget of 200 - that would be ridiculous'"