The Greens are calling on the Government to increase its foreign aid budget by $60 million a year for the next ten years so New Zealand can fulfil its international obligations to the world’s poor.
The call came in response to the launch this morning of a petition by PointSeven, a campaign being organised by twenty New Zealand aid agencies to push for New Zealand’s overseas aid, as a percentage of Gross National Income, to be increased from 0.23 to 0.7.
“So far, all we’ve had from the government is fine words about 0.7% being a desirable target,” said Green MP Keith Locke, Green Overseas Development Assistance Spokesperson. “What about some action?
“The Government must set a definite timetable for reaching the 0.7% benchmark. Adding an extra $60 million annually to our aid budget would increase our contribution by around 0.05% of GNI each time, getting us to 0.7% by 2015, as the Government has promised.”
In 2002 at the UN Millennium Summit, New Zealand agreed, along with 188 other countries, to implementing the 0.7% benchmark by 2015. However, Mr Locke said New Zealand’s aid budget had actually decreased as a percentage of GNI since Labour came to power in 1999.
“Despite the Government’s talk about New Zealand being a good global citizen, it now budgets less for overseas development aid as a percentage of GNI than the Jenny Shipley-led Government did.”
Mr Locke said this miserliness was at odds with the public mood.
“The generosity of ordinary Kiwis to tsunami victims shows we do care about suffering in other countries. Why is our government still dragging the chain in increasing the overall aid budget?
“There were no public complaints when the Government announced a $68 million package in response to the tsunami. All the New Zealand aid community is asking is that this sort of extra money is committed every year for the next decade to people in need all around the world.”