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NZ Slipping Behind in Aid

NZ Slipping Behind in Aid

One Year On from Gleneagles: Significant progress, but much more needed

June 9, 2006: For Immediate Release

A new report from international agency Oxfam today shows that decisions made at last year's G8 in Scotland, following huge pressure from campaigners around the world, have led to real improvement in the lives of some of the world's poorest people. However, Oxfam is concerned that while debt cancellation is starting to be delivered, the growth in aid in key G8 nations is not enough to meet the promises made at the Gleneagles G8.

The report comes as G8 Finance Ministers, meet in Moscow today to prepare the ground for the leaders' summit in St. Petersburg next month. It reveals that while official figures show large aid increases in 2005 and 2006, this is only a temporary spike caused by the inclusion of a substantial one-off debt cancellation deal for Nigeria and Iraq. When this deal is no longer part of the equation at the end of 2007, aid figures will plummet unless the finance ministers accelerate the present rate of aid increases.

Oxfam New Zealand's Executive Director Barry Coates said: "The debt cancellation deal brokered at last year's Finance Ministers' meeting in London is already making a difference but G8 governments must not continue to double count debt cancellation as part of their aid budgets."

True aid figures continue to be obscured because official figures still count debt cancellation deals as new foreign aid. Four years ago, at the Monterrey Financing for Development conference, rich countries promised to stop this double counting. Despite their promise, the practice remains unchanged.

Barry Coates continued: "Governments should use their influence to ensure that G8 countries deliver both debt cancellation and increased aid if they are to make poverty history. The millions of people who campaigned for an end to poverty last year will be watching the G8 leaders carefully to ensure they keep their promises."

Last year the G8 promised to increase aid by $50 billion annually by 2010.

Oxfam's report shows that all G8 countries will need to announce new aid plans to ensure they meet the Gleneagles commitment. Although this represents only 0.36% of GNI compared with the 0.7% promised at the UN thirty years ago it could pay for every child to go to school and save the lives of 500,000 women who die each year in pregnancy or childbirth.

Barry Coates added: "At the current rate of progress, real aid is not rising nearly fast enough across the G8 countries to meet their Gleneagles aid commitment to increase by $50 billion by 2010. The G8 must make clear how and when they will deliver real aid increases, particularly for health and education.

"But poor performance on keeping promises about aid is by no means confined to the G8. While other countries are increasing aid levels in an attempt to keep their promises, New Zealand is slipping even further behind the OECD average for aid as a proportion of national income. The OECD estimates that, by 2010, New Zealand will be the third lowest aid donor amongst 22 OECD countries."

"This blows a huge hole in the myth that we are a good global citizen. Time is running out to meet the goals for halving absolute poverty by 2015. The government needs to significantly increase the New Zealand aid budget."

ENDS

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