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New Direction for Overseas Aid

11 September 2001

New Direction for Overseas Aid

Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Phil Goff and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of aid, Matt Robson announced new directions and new institutional arrangements for the way New Zealand’s international aid funds are spent.

“These changes reflect international best practice in development assistance and recognise the unique nature of poverty in the Pacific,” Ministers said.

“They will focus New Zealand’s aid money more strongly on poverty elimination. Emphasis will be on lifting the prospects of the poorest people so they can make a better contribution to the countries in which they live.”

The new policy focus will be strengthened by the establishment of a new semi-autonomous body within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade that will set policy and administer the program.

"The new body will be headed by its own chief executive, hold its own Vote and will report directly to the Ministers on policy and operational matters. It will also have the ability to recruit and build a team of specialist development staff," the Ministers said.

“This new arrangement will ensure that New Zealand can beef up its ability to deliver aid but still ensure that New Zealand’s overall foreign policy coherence will continue.”

The changes are based on recommendations made by a Ministerial review of New Zealand's aid programme, Towards Excellence in Aid Delivery. The review team reported back to the Ministers in May this year.

Further work on the review's findings was conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade while a study of structural options also involved Treasury and the State Services Commission and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The review was foreshadowed in both Labour and Alliance election manifestos. The last substantial review of NZODA was carried out more than ten years ago.

"The recent instability and difficulties facing governments in the Pacific have highlighted the need to focus aid more closely on the way aid policies might address the causes of the problems.

"Most aid will continue to go to the Pacific where New Zealand has strong connections and advantages to ensure that money is spent effectively."

The number of countries that New Zealand gives aid to will be reviewed, with the intention of focusing on a smaller number of more significant aid partners.

"New Zealand's aid money will focus more strongly on basic education (away from the predominance of tertiary scholarships), and on good governance. Human rights will be more closely mainstreamed into programmes," the Ministers said.

"Throughout the world, aid donors have emphasised poverty alleviation, the need to set specific development targets and to measure their outcomes, as vital."

"Australia and Britain have conducted similar reviews of their aid programmes in recent years. We have built on their experiences, but will shape our aid agency to New Zealand's particular circumstances and our unique role in the Pacific," said the Ministers.

Ministers praised the work of staff in the Development Cooperation Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and acknowledged their achievements.

“The changes announced today will build on a foundation of solid performance but will provide structures that are more suited to the new environment and the challenges that we face in the future,” the Ministers said.

Copies of the review avaliable on 'Robson on Line': www.robsononline.co.nz from 5pm

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