Posted on 20 April 2022
As the New Zealand government prepares to deliver Budget 2022, the Council for International Development (CID) and its member aid agencies, are calling for the aid programme to be enhanced, to address growing human need, instability, and volatile geopolitics.
CID recognises the challenges in achieving balance and supporting the domestic agenda, while also ensuring New Zealand maintains its mana as a global citizen. Global events like Covid, the emergence of a new regime in Afghanistan, and more recently the tragic war in Ukraine, highlight that though we may be geographically remote, we are tightly connected within a global system.
While we refocus our aid spending on new crises, it remains important that prolonged crises – like Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Myanmar – are not forgotten. Many of the longer-term appeals for these crises remain under subscribed, while other emergencies have quickly gained significant support.
This is a key moment for New Zealand to lead in its support to the Pacific and wider global community.
CID calls for the aid budget to keep in step with growth, with at least a modest increase back to the high of 0.29% from 2010-11, in this time of global need.
Based on projections released in the last budget, government aid spending over our Gross National Income (GNI), appears set to fall slightly this year to 0.27%, from 0.28% in 2020-21. This is only 27 cents from every one hundred dollars of income, when the United Nations target for developed country ODA of 0.70% or 70 cents.
CID calls for full transparency in budget spending. A full breakdown of how aid is spent by country and thematic area should be released with the government budget in May. Further transparency helps to build trust and provides greater understanding of government priorities.
An immediately available high-level analysis of the New Zealand Aid program could give a clearer line of sight on investments such as gender, Covid, or disability, for example. Country-level budget estimates of aid spending per financial year would also let New Zealanders know where the government plans to spend their aid overseas.
Listening to our Pacific neighbours
CID applauds Minister Mahuta’s aspirations around promoting locally-led development, in the spirit of Tino Rangatiratanga. This means listening to what Pacific leaders are saying about their priority needs.
Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Mark Brown, said at the CID Conference last year, that it is about “not just listening but hearing. Engagement with the Pacific must be genuine and must bring all parties to the table.”
Pacific economies are still to open up to tourism, and continue to feel the pressure on their economies. New Zealand should support the recent call for a cap on debt servicing (the interest etc for loans) to affordable amounts for at least the next five years, to avoid putting further pressure on economies.
In an address at a Pacific Debt Conference, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Mark Brown, said:
“What this pandemic has shown us that we cannot just employ the ‘normal’ economic responses to this abnormal situation.”
“The IMF estimates suggest the economic damage caused by the this one in one hundred years event is likely to leave the Pacific on a permanently lower development path. The longer our recovery takes, the deeper the scarring becomes. The deeper the scarring, the less ability we will have to service our debt. And it is in everyone’s interests that Pacific nations can service our debt obligations.”
Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) Executive Director, Emeline Siale Ilolahia, has called for deeper collaboration and collective effort to tackle high risk debt in the Pacific, she said:
“Governments needs to strengthen Public Finance Management (PFM) in each country and we can lobby at global platforms for accessible loan criteria where leaders can negotiate loans and repayment or even debt cancelation. Some of our debts were high before Covid-19 arrived in the Pacific.”
CID welcomes the climate finance announced last year of $1.3 billion over the next four years, which the government has said will be on top of the existing aid program. It is important that climate finance is additional to existing to Official Development Assistance (ODA). It is also important that New Zealand’s other ODA keep growing in coming years, alongside our rising climate finance.
Funds for climate action should not come at the expense of other crucial programs like health or food security, the progress on which is also being impacted or eroded by climate change. CID encourages the government to support Pacific countries’ national climate plans with finance, enabling our neighbours to direct resources to where they are needed the most, including risk mitigation and support for communities increasingly displaced by sea-level rise.
Big Hearts Campaign
Many of CID’s members are supporters of the Big Hearts Connected World Campaign, which includes budget asks such as a 20% increase to the overseas aid budget, “This will make sure that New Zealand’s small contribution to the rest of our global whānau experiencing incredible challenges, such as daily hunger, exclusion from education and opportunity, can continue.”
Signatories on the Big Hearts joint letter:
Lisa Woods, Campaign Director, Amnesty International.
Michael Hartfield, National Director, Anglican Missions.
Murray Sheard, Chief Executive Officer, Christian Blind Mission.
Murray Overton, National Director, Christian World Service.
Jackie Edmond, Chief Executive, New Zealand Family Planning.
Dr Joanna Spratt, Interim Executive Director, Oxfam Aotearoa.
Ian McInnes, Chief Executive Officer. Tearfund New Zealand.
Geoff White, Chief Executive Officer, Trade Aid
Ross Wilson, Chair of Trustees, Unions Aotearoa International Development Trust (UnionAID).
Grant Bayldon, National Director, World Vision New Zealand.