In response to the New Zealand Government’s Budget announcement today, which included slightly more than the anticipated increase in spending towards aid, Jo Spratt, Oxfam New Zealand’s Advocacy and Campaigns Director said:
“We didn’t expect a significant increase in this year’s government aid budget. We’re pleased there was a small increase of about $30 million dollars, and similar increases in future years. This is a great start and we welcome this positive trend. But we need to do more.
“Currently, for every dollar of government spending, less than one cent goes to help countries eradicate poverty and inequality. That’s not enough if we are to meaningfully support partner governments with the development challenges they face,” Spratt said.
“Minister Peters agrees we need to give more and we recognise his efforts to go some way to fixing this. Our aid currently sits at about 0.27 percent of Gross National Income, putting us below many of our OECD peers and way off the 0.7 percent of GNI that we have said we will provide. Last year Minister Peters said he wanted 0.35 percent by 2024. Now we need to see a clear timeframe for a considered, step-by-step approach to meeting this interim target.
“Development challenges are significant for countries that receive our government aid both in the Pacific and beyond. The World Bank estimates that in the coming decades many of our Pacific neighbours will struggle to find the government revenue to provide for the human development needs of their people.
“Aid can’t transform entire economies, but spent well, it can support governments to educate their people, provide health services, build and maintain important infrastructure, and respond to climate breakdown.
“Developing countries are increasingly facing the brunt of climate destruction – which they on the whole did not cause. Factor this in and it is evident we need to be increasing funding if we are to match our words with actions.”
Last year, the New Zealand Government announced it was increasing its support for climate action up to $75 million annually for the next four years. But while the move was a welcome start, it is not nearly enough, Spratt said.
“Wealthy countries, including New Zealand, have committed to providing US$100 billion by 2020 so that developing countries can protect themselves from climate destruction. After factoring in creative accounting – which Oxfam has calculated brings the running tally to just US$21 billion so far – New Zealand’s $75 million a year is a woeful contribution to this pool of funds.”
Spratt said recent shifts in the focus of New Zealand government aid towards crucial areas like good governance, women’s empowerment and young people were a step in the right direction. However, more funds are needed, especially to help Pacific communities adapt to the effects of climate breakdown.
“Time and time again, Kiwis say they want their aid to be spent on making sure nobody has to suffer the indignities of poverty. We still have some way to go before we are contributing enough to make this achievable goal a reality.”