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Budget 2003: $20 million extra for poor countries

13 May 2003 Media Statement

Budget 2003

$20 million extra for poor countries

New Zealand’s international aid budget will be boosted by $20 million, Aid Minister Marian Hobbs said today

The pre-budget announcement heralds a $9 million increase to target development needs in the Pacific. Overall the aid budget has increased by nearly 9%.

Money will be set aside for Iraq to help re-build the country post-war. This is on top of the $3.3 million dollars already paid out to Iraq at the beginning of the war to help with immediate humanitarian needs, and a further $1 million dollars recently contributed to Red Cross.

"The needs in Iraq are huge, and we’re proud to play our part. But we’re mindful of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s plea that reconstruction assistance should not come at the expense of needs elsewhere in the world," Marian Hobbs said.

"The extra money for the Pacific is consistent with the new aid agency, NZAID’s mandate to focus more clearly on our own region," Marian Hobbs said.

The New Zealand Agency for International Development was set up in July 2002 and is semi-autonomous within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Total expenditure in the Pacific will now reach more than $100 million dollars.

About 45 per cent of the new funds will go towards strengthening governance in the Pacific. For example, support for community based governance focusing on:
- measures to strengthen community policing and police responses to domestic violence
- conflict prevention and peace-building initiatives
- assistance to the University of South Pacific to set up a new Institute of Governance

"Strong social and political institutions and the rule of law have been identified as the most critical building blocks to put in place to reduce poverty and encourage growth. You can’t do much if a country’s institutions are in chaos.

"The Pacific is our neighbourhood, and we want to support security in our own region. Prosperous countries are less likely to become fertile ground for the kinds of violence we have seen in Bougainville, and Solomon Islands," Marian Hobbs said.

"New funding will also enhance NZAID's already established focus on basic health and education. These are the building blocks that need to be in place if poor countries are to develop their own capacity to get out of poverty."

Funding for Non-Governmental-Organisations (NGOs), who are often at the front line of delivering aid to some of the poorest areas in the world, has also increased, by over $1 million dollars.

The total aid budget for programme funding is now $245 million.


ENDS

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