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Budget 2004: Aid money for education and security

Hon Marian Hobbs
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Official Development Assistance)

More aid money for education and security

A $15 million increase to $260 million in New Zealand's international aid budget will allow a greater focus on education and good governance programmes, particularly in the Pacific region, Aid Minister Marian Hobbs says.

New Zealand international aid and development agency NZAID focuses on the elimination of poverty in poorer countries.

"We are increasing our aid budget for the second year running," Marian Hobbs says. "New Zealanders can be proud of the humanitarian and development work done overseas in their name. This increase allows us to do even more."

Pacific assistance is up 13 per cent to $122 million; including $16 million to rebuild the Solomon Islands education system, improve governance and support economic reform. Vanuatu's assistance is up half a million dollars to $6.36 million for new rural development, law and justice initiatives and education. There is also increased backing for key regional institutions working for closer regional cooperation in the Pacific, and to support the review of the Pacific Islands Forum.

"As a Pacific country, we are best positioned to focus on the needs of our own region," Marian Hobbs said. "Programmes that strengthen governance, economic development and cooperation amongst all Pacific countries encourage security in our region. In today's fragile world, that is important to all of us."

Other budget highlights include: increasing support for development Non Governmental Organisations by $1 million to $11 million; NZAID's Trade and Development programme to reduce poverty will grow by $2.2 million; and additional funding for climate change initiatives to meet our international obligations.

"As a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI), our aid budget will increase from 0.23 per cent to 0.24 per cent," Marian Hobbs said. "It's still a long way from the goal of 0.7 per cent of GNI agreed to by New Zealand and other UN members. But it is another step in the right direction."

ENDS

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