10 Mar 2009

Concerns over NZ govt moves to changes focus of NZAID

9:45 pm on 10 March 2009

The United Nations Development Fund for Women has expressed concern over signals from the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs that he is looking to change the core policy of his country's aid programme.

The Minister, Murray McCully is spearheading a review of NZAID and has indicated his preference to change NZAID's current goal of poverty elimination to economic development.

However, UNIFEM's Rae Julian says they oppose any such change.

Ms Julian says UNIFEM's main concern is the possible effect of any changes on the women in developing countries who have benefitted from NZAID's policies on both poverty and gender, particularly in the Pacific.

But she says the government has made no provision to receive submissions from the public.

"I know the Council for International Development have asked if theyn can make submissions and have been told submissions aren't being received. We would particularly like to make a submission from the perspective of women. I understand that it (the review) is moving quite fast though."

Meanwhile, The Cook Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs says the New Zealand government owes it to the Pacific to be clear about what its plans are for development aid.

NZ Aid oversees an aid and development budget of almost 240-million US dollars, more than half of which is spent in the Pacific.

Wilkie Rasmussen says it is too early for governments to be concerned, but there are some answers he is seeking from his New Zealand counterpart.

I think they owe it to all of us in the Pacific to be clear as to what their policies are, and what the new plans are in place, because some of the pacific Islands pin their relationship on New Zealand because of the support New Zealand provides.

Cook Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wilkie Rasmussen.