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What About The Others?

What About The Others?

“I am disgusted that, at a time when New Zealand is on an economic high, the government has made only a token gesture towards helping reduce the extreme poverty in developing countries”, said Rae Julian, Executive Director of the Council for International Development (CID), commenting on the Budget.

The 2004-05 Budget includes $260 million for overseas aid, an increase of $15 million. However, overseas aid as a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI) remains only 0.24%, well below the United Nations target of 0.7%.

“We do not dispute the need to assist struggling families at home and support the government’s intention to do so”, Rae Julian said. “At a time, however, when there is a huge government surplus – possibly the largest in history – we urge them to be far more generous towards those living at a much deeper level of poverty.”

There are people in many parts of the world, including the Pacific, who are also struggling to maintain a standard of living but whose needs are more basic. They need assistance in order to get basic education and health care for their children; to get shelter; and to promote income generation. They are not helpless supplicants, but they do need partnership support to achieve their basic human rights and move beyond a subsistence level of living.

Barry Coates, CID Board member and Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand, points out that New Zealand ranks shamefully low among the OECD donor countries – last year we were 16th out of the 22. “We have pledged to reach the UN target of giving 0.7% of GNI in aid by 2015, but this government has failed to make real progress towards this target. At a time of mounting crisis, we must not turn our backs on our near neighbours in the Pacific and those suffering in other parts of the world.”

“New Zealanders have a reputation for being generous and caring about those less fortunate. We had hoped that the Budget would have helped us to live up to that reputation – overseas as well as domestically. But instead, this budget puts us in the bottom tier of aid donors, as one of the miserly nations of the world”, said Barry Coates. “We can and must live up to our international responsibilities.”

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