28 May 2007

Australian aid spending criticised

3:19 pm on 28 May 2007

An aid monitoring group, Aid Watch, has criticised Australia's aid spending, saying there are serious problems with the quality and the quantity of the assistance given to poor countries.

Aid Watch says donor interests, donor control of aid funds and donor leverage remain the dominant features of Australia's aid programme.

Don Wiseman has more.

"Aid Watch says this year Australia's foreign aid is to reach three billion Australia dollars for the first time. But it says this is inflated. The agency says nearly a billion dollars of this money has been used to fund the cancellation of an Iraqi debt, to pay for the Federal police's overseas activities, the Department of Immigration and other agencies and for the full cost foreign scholarships for study at Australian schools and universities. It also says commercial interests manage the bulk of the aid programme so it can more correctly be called the aid industry. The agency says Australia has to ensure that direct support for health and education should account for most of the aid funding. It also says there should a timeframe set for ending most links with Australian companies and contractors until 80 percent of the assistance is managed by the agencies and organisations in recipient countries."