CWS released the text of a letter to New Zealand Members of Parliament regarding the funding changes announced by Foreign Minister, Murray McCully.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued an invitation to a meeting on the new funding scheme on 29 July. CWS will attend this meeting and report back to supporters and those interested on this important area of foreign policy.
6 July 2010
Dear MPOn sending you the latest issue of @world, I would like to take the opportunity to let you know how Christian World Service itself is weathering the economic and political changes of 2010. There is mixed news to give you in these areas.
Our donor base has held up well during a recessionary time when we know that investment returns have slid sharply for many investors.
Politically recent changes, however, are more of a concern and mean we are faced with making a minor break with our tradition to ring a few alarm bells. While Christian World Service has never shied away from advocacy for sometimes unpopular causes, we have also tried to stay politically a “broad church”, that is politically non-aligned. Our supporters span the political spectrum from deeply conservative through to fairly radical. They share certain core values but like most of us vary widely on how to achieve results.
This year we are faced with a real challenge on the political front. As a result of a set of policy changes from the current Government we are now in a new financial year uncertain of how to access Government funding, and what the criteria are. As a result we also don’t yet know if we can keep up established offshore projects and partnerships. These doubts are the aggregate effect of several changes.
Firstly as Foreign Minister Murray McCully had signalled he would do, he has changed a 37 year partnership model between Government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as CWS, so that control of foreign aid funding has now reverted to central Government via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This has meant that an established partnership model has been replaced by a model with control now held completely by Government.
The established joint voice for the New Zealand NGOs CID (Council for International Development) has within one year lost Government funding, been forced to lay off staff and faces an uncertain future. This has effectively closed the collective voice for the NGO sector and replaced it with a situation that we believe will lead to a more competitive, less productive style of liaison between NGOs.
This year the established Government funding systems for NGOs were abruptly closed down and new replacements announced. A system that had worked well in our estimation has been replaced with two new funding streams that still lack specific detail as we head into another financial year. A system that had developed over nearly 40 years and was rated as a world benchmark by the OCED review team just a few years ago, has been replaced with an unproven model. What we do know about the new order is that it looks as if it may shut out smaller NGO players altogether.
The collective effect of these changes has been huge changes for the NGO sector to which CWS has not been immune. Faced with changes of this scale it is difficult for CWS to stay silent and feel that we are meeting our duty to supporters and observers such as yourself, to keep you informed.
To be fair many of these changes were well signalled to the NGO sector but lack of clarity for planning ahead has been frustrating. We simply do not know what to do. We face huge uncertainty around funding for many of our projects and are aware that we are not the only aid and development agency in this situation.
There is already significant alarm about these changes amongst our established networks of church leaders, congregations and civil society supporters. To this we also have to add the inevitable reputational damage for New Zealand overseas if as looks likely funding for projects is abruptly cut. What we ask from you is your support to ask some questions about what is happening to our sector and that you try and show other political players the full impact of the changes we face.
Once again, it is not our wish to be controversial or divisive but we do think you need to be made aware of how major the changes to our sector are. Please contact me- firstname.lastname@example.org – if you would like to discuss these issues further. Yours sincerely
Pauline McKayNational Director
16 July 2010