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Aid budget increase won’t meet our promises

Aid budget increase won’t meet our promises

A promising start but still not nearly enough to honour our international promise, is how the Council for International Development has described the Budget increase of $59.4 million in overseas development assistance, and planned increases over the next two years.

While welcoming the increased level of aid, CID Deputy Chair, Barry Coates says it falls well short of meeting our United Nations obligations.

“The increase still leaves us near the bottom of the OECD in terms of our level of assistance and well under the average of contributing 0.42 percent of gross national income,” says Mr Coates. Today’s budget announcement means that New Zealand’s aid level will be 0.27 percent in 2005-06, holding steady the following year, and increasing to 0.28 percent in 2007-08.

“When New Zealand signed up to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 we agreed to contribute 0.7 percent of gross national income in overseas development assistance so that the Goals could be achieved by 2015.”

“It is concerning that there is still no plan by the Government of how it will achieve the 0.7 percent target.”

Mr Coates says this is particularly unfortunate given that this year is crunch time for achieving the internationally-agreed goals – a series of specific targets which include halving the estimated 1.2 billion people in the world living on less than $1 a day.

“The Millennium Development Goals are still achievable, but only if countries like New Zealand follow through their promises with action.”

“This is particularly important in our neighbourhood of the Pacific. The recent authoritative report to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, on progress towards the MDGs, identified two regions in the world clearly failing to make progress - one was Sub-Saharan Africa and the other was the Pacific. We need to act quickly in countries like PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to prevent further conflict and suffering.” The recent peer review of the New Zealand aid programme commended NZAID on the quality of its work, but called for intermediate targets and a timetable to reach 0.7 percent of national income. A 14,000-strong petition presented to Parliament last week also called on the government to reach the 0.7 percent target by 2015.

Mr Coates says that despite the increase in today’s Budget, we’ve still got a long way to go before we can claim to be pulling our weight.

ENDS

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