Overseas aid agency Christian World Service (CWS) says absorbing New Zealand’s foreign aid programme back into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is a move backwards. Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully has ordered two reviews of NZAID which are likely to see the department re-integrated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
CWS national director Pauline McKay says the idea of merging NZAID back into the ministry was rejected in a 2005 review by the OECD which said NZAID was the best focused overseas aid programme in the world. In the same year it was reviewed by former National MP Marilyn Waring. Both reviews concluded the department should operate independent of the ministry in building an effective aid programme.
To return the aid programme to the ministry would be a retrograde step, Ms McKay says.
“The setting up of NZAID was in keeping with other OECD countries that already had dedicated departments for managing development assistance. The United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all have semi-autonomous structures similar to NZAID.
“New Zealand’s overseas aid programme asks governments in recipient countries what their needs are and how New Zealand can help meet them. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade asks what New Zealand’s needs are and how we can advance them. Furthermore, NZAID is run by development professionals with different skills from career diplomats or other foreign affairs staff,” Ms McKay says.
CWS says it is unacceptable that the review of NZAID will be closed. The reviews will be conducted only by the State Services Commission and the ministry without public consultation.
The International Monetary Fund today warned the world’s poorest countries face greater exposure to the current economic crisis because they are more integrated into the international economy than they used to be. A new report called on donor countries not to cut back on support. If global growth and financing conditions deteriorate further, the number of vulnerable countries could almost double.
March 4, 2009