Greens look to overseas aid budget increase

Thursday’s Budget should contain a significant increase in overseas development aid, if the Government is to honour its own election commitments and its post-election agreement with the Green Party, Green Party Overseas Development Assistance Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

The New Zealand Government currently contributes only 0.27 percent of the country’s Gross National Income to overseas development aid, despite being officially committed to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

“Clearly, even Labour’s modest election promise of 0.35 percent of GNI by 2010 is unlikely to be achieved unless there is a significant percentage increase in aid within this budget,” Mr. Locke says.

“It is unacceptable to simply continue with the projections in last year’s budget, which envisage the aid level staying at 0.27 percent for 06/07, and increasing to only 0.28 percent in 07/08.

“Even Australia, which has already moved ahead of New Zealand by choosing to allocate 0.3 percent of GNI for 06/07, is projecting an aid level increase to 0.36 percent of GNI by 2010.

“Unless there is a change, New Zealand will soon be embarrassed to sit with the United States and Japan as the only other OECD countries spending less than 0.3% of GNI on overseas development assistance,” Mr Locke says.

“The Labour-led government will have increased aid by a meagre 0.02 percent between the level it inherited upon coming to office in 1999, and the 0.28 percent level it is projecting to reach by 2008.

“This is far short of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which require us to reach 0.7 per cent by 2015.

“The Labour-led Government, which places so much emphasis on supporting UN goals in other areas, is far behind schedule right now on this issue.”