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Australians count billions, forget impoverished

Australians count their billions and forget about the impoverished

As the Australian treasurer announced $37 billion in tax cuts and a
$10.8 billion surplus tonight, the 700,000 people in our region living on less than $1 per day, were asked to scramble for change.

A tiny increase in our aid program of just $300 million (mostly Iraq debt forgiveness) leaves Australia trailing behind the international movement to make poverty history.

“The positive changes we saw reflected in the recent White Paper on aid have not translated to dollars on the ground” said Tim O’Connor from AID/WATCH.

“Whilst we remain hopeful of a stronger focus on alleviating poverty it’s a shame our struggling neighbours will have to wait another year”, said O’Connor.

“The issues of quality and quantity which plague our aid program don’t appear to have been addressed”.

Australia remains towards the bottom of the international donor table allocating just 0.30% of our GNI on aid in 2006/07.

The international average amongst OECD nations is now 0.47% of GNI and Australia is falling behind the international movement to challenge poverty.

Key announcements in the 2006/07 aid budget

• Increase from $2.64 billion to $2.94 billion in overall aid budget (increase of $300 million)

• Funding to Other Government Departments (OGD) increased from budget 2004/05 of $563.9 to $707.8 million (an increase of $143 million). Funding to OGD increased from $219 million in 2002/03 to $707 million in 2006/07 an increase of over 380%)

• Iraq debt relief increases aid budget by $334 million

• HIPC debt relief $136.2 million

• Governance funding decreased from 36% in 2005/06 to 26% in 2006/07

• Health and education increased by 1% each from 2005/06 to 13% and 14% respectively in 2006/07

• Only $150 million of the total $1 billion AIPRD allocation made in the wake of the tsunami

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