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New Aid Agency, Open For Business

July 1 2002

New Zealand’s first dedicated developmental aid agency - NZAID - officially opened its doors for business today.

Minister responsible for overseas aid and develoment, Matt Robson, will officially launch the new aid agency this evening in parliament.

“This is a milestone for New Zealand. It shows we mean business. We led the world in the anti-nuclear struggle, and we can do it again in the fight against poverty.

“Because today is the first day that we have a government agency soley dedicated to the elimination of extreme poverty in the world.

“Poverty is not only a form of violence, it creates violence. The terrible events of September 11 showed us that.

“Aid targeted at poverty is an investment in justice and security.

“That is why NZAID will focus its efforts primarily in our own region of the Pacific where we have a vested interest in growth and security.

“New Zealanders are proud of the fact that although we’re a small nation, we are prepared to make our contribution.

“NZAID will help build safe, healthy communities in our “back-yard’ of the Pacific. We don’t want to see more violence in places like Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and East Timor.

“We will make every aid dollar accountable to the New Zealand tax-payer, by asking, “is that dollar making someone less poor, more healthy, better educated, more likely to live in peace?’

“I came into this job as Minister for development, determined to review New Zealand’s aid practices.

“I came in determined to make changes - not for the sake of it - but because I knew we could be much more effective. The birth of NZAID signals the change.

NZAID will focus primarily on:

- Poverty alieviation

- Basic Education

- The Pacific region

The new agency will have its own vote and its Executive Director, Peter Adams will advise Ministers directly on policy.

“I was very pleased to announced an increase of $4 million dollars in this year’s budget. It’s a modest step towards the internationally accepted level of 0.7% of GNI.”

New Zealand currently contributes 0.25% of GNI towards aid and development. At present, funding is $230.4 million.

“This is my commitment card. As the Minister in the next government I will:

- Continue to advocate in cabinet for an increase in aid to 0.39% by 2006, and 0.7% of GNI by 2015. These are the internationally accepted targets.

- Keep poverty elimination targets locked on UN Millenium Development Goals (to halve the proportion of people suffering extreme poverty and hunger by 2015)

- Keep New Zealand’s aid focussed on the Pacific

- Constantly monitor and evaluate the aid dollar to ensure we get results

- Reduce aid dependency to get countries off aid and into trade and development.

- Increase the allocation of resources to NGOs, where appropriate

- Keep a focus on human rights.

“I would like to thank NZAID staff who have done a tremendous job in setting up a world-leading development agency in less that a year.

“NZAID has opened its doors for the first time today. I look forward to being back in government to make NZAID the standard by which all other aid agencies are judged,” says Matt Robson.

Ends


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