The New Zealand aid sector is welcoming projected increases in future foreign aid allocations, but cautions these increases leave New Zealand well short of meeting the international commitments by wealthy countries to helping developing countries.
The 2014 Budget released today announced spending in New Zealand Official Development Assistance (ODA) will increase by nearly $220 million spread over three years, but not starting until 2015/16. Total expenditure on ODA over this period will be $1.89 billion compared to nearly $1.67 billion in the current three year period.
The Council for International Development (CID), which is the umbrella organisation for most of the organisations working in the aid sector, says waiting until next year before making modest increases is disappointing.
“Our aid budget has been too low for too long while developing countries have been hit hard by the after effects of the world financial crisis.” says Dr Wren Green, CID Director.
“While it’s tempting to see any increase in the New Zealand aid vote as a good thing, we are currently languishing at 16th on the league table of rich nations giving just 0.26 percent of our gross national income to ODA.”
“For the price of a takeaway coffee per week for every New Zealander, our country could stand tall globally and take a major step towards meeting the international promises by wealthy countries to help those in the developing world.”
Dr Green says this would roughly double our aid budget to $1 billion a year – making a real difference to increasing opportunities and addressing inequality, especially in the Pacific.
“A bolder commitment to reducing global poverty and inequalities needs to be a non-partisan issue” says CID’s Dr Green. “Whatever political party is in power New Zealand’s commitment to significantly increase its aid budget should be front and centre of all policy and planning around overseas development assistance.”
“New Zealand aid agencies call on the government to reflect its Kiwi’s individual generosity towards aid and increase government investment in sustainable development to reduce poverty; surely we can afford a cup of coffee a week to help a world in need.”
Fourteen years ago New Zealand agreed to be part of a global push to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015. Twelve years ago New Zealand was one of the ‘economically advanced countries’ in Monterrey that committed to work towards spending 0.7% of our Gross National Income (GNI) on aid. Presently our aid budget amounts to $4.20 for every New Zealander a fortnight – upping that to a weekly total would bring our ODA to about 0.5% of GNI.
16 May 2014