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Overseas Development Allocations Foster Stability

28 May 2002

Overseas Development Allocations Foster Stability, Sustainability And Fair Trade.

Enhanced regional security and stability are the long-term aim of New Zealand’s overseas development aid, Overseas Development Minister Matt Robson said today announcing the overseas aid allocations for 2002/03.

“Overseas development is an investment in our own security. A stable and peaceful region benefits us all, says Matt Robson.

“NZAID, the new aid agency to be officially launched on 1 July, will be in the business of targeting real need and giving ordinary people in developing countries the ability to move out of poverty through investment in basic education and sustainable development projects.

“It is important for richer countries to increase aid levels to build the infrastructures and technical capacity of developing countries so that the rhetoric becomes reality. Aid levels decreased during the last decade, but there are now signs that more money is being made available, and that it is being spent more effectively.

“Allocation of the 2002/03 overseas aid budget of $230.4 million, up $4 million on last year, shows a shift toward the government’s new emphasis on basic education and poverty elimination, particularly in our Pacific region.

“$4.5 million is moved from tertiary scholarships to basic education in the Pacific. That is a good start. We aim to strike the right balance between scholarships and basic education.

“Aid allocations for the coming year will also increase core funding for non-government agencies in the front line of poverty relief work. New Zealand NGOs, with their strong volunteer elements, are widely admired for their cost-effective delivery. VSA funding is up $1.12 million to $5.48 million, and an extra $500,000 has been allocated to the Voluntary Agencies Support Scheme (VASS), up to $9.5 million.”

Other areas of increased aid funding for 2002/03 include:

- $900,000 extra (to $3 million) for newly independent East Timor;

- $900,000 extra (to $3.9 million) for projects in Fiji;

- $600,000 extra (to $8.1 million) for the future development of Tokelau, a New Zealand territory;

- $3.46 million extra (to $8.66 million) for Indonesia, targeted towards basic education and poverty reduction projects in the poorer provinces of Indonesia;

- $1.97 million extra (to $10.97 million) to the Asia Development Fund;

- $1 million extra (to $6 million) for the Government’s Asia Development Assistance Facility;

- $1.6 million extra (to $5 million) for New Zealand’s aid projects in Latin America.

Areas of decreased aid funding include:

- Aotearoa Scholarships Scheme, down $4.1 million to $10.5 million, reflecting the Government’s change in educational assistance priorities;

- Thailand, down $550,000 to $1.15 million, reflecting that country’s relatively low need for assistance in comparison with other Asian countries;

- World Bank’s International Development Agency, down $1.49 million to $13.5 million.

A $1 million decrease (to $5 million) in aid funding to Papua New Guinea reflects the transition to a restructured programme following a country strategy review. This is intended to be temporary only.

“New Zealand’s aid contributions currently make up about 0.25 percent of GNI (Gross National Income), about average for OECD donor countries. New Zealand is committed to raising its contributions towards the internationally accepted goal of 0.7 percent of GNI. The $4 million budget increase is modest, but it is definitely a step in the right direction, Matt Robson says.

“Next week, I will be attending in Indonesia a preparatory meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in South Africa later this year. The World Summit will pick up on the recent Mexico conference on financing for development.

“The new international thinking, which New Zealand is pushing, is about moving the emphasis of aid toward sustainable development and environmental care, linking development with fair trade. We are already “walking the talk’. We have abolished tariffs for imports from the least developed countries of the world and are refocusing our aid spend toward sustainable development, says Matt Robson.”


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