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Oxfam welcomes increase in foreign aid

Oxfam welcomes the increase in overseas development assistance announced today as part of the Government’s 2007-2008 Budget.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced that the Government would meet their election promise and increase their foreign aid assistance to 0.35 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2010. New Zealand’s expenditure on overseas aid will be progressively raised from the current 0.27 percent over the next three years. This represents a significant injection of millions more dollars for some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable peoples.

“Our government aid has proven to be extremely effective, and we are delighted that the increase in development assistance will help those in desperate need of our help,” says Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director Barry Coates.

Coates, who attended today’s announcement, said that the extra money would be invaluable in the Pacific, where most of New Zealand’s assistance is spent.

“The Pacific is facing multiple pressures. An increase in assistance is desperately needed to combat the interrelated problems of economic stagnation, high youth unemployment, destruction of natural resources, conflict and crime, poor health and pandemics, poor governance and natural disasters, including those related to climate change.”

“This increase in aid is an investment. A prosperous, sustainable and peaceful region is not only of benefit to those living in poverty, but to every kiwi. The Government should be congratulated for recognising this.”

The announcement comes after ongoing lobbying and campaigning from organisations such as Oxfam, who have long called for an increase in New Zealand’s aid levels.

The increase in aid spending places New Zealand half-way toward the globally-agreed United Nations target of 0.7 percent of GNI by 2015. Oxfam will continue working with others to encourage cross-Party support to establish a timetable to meet the UN agreed target of 0.7 percent.

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