Thursday, January 13, 2005

Keeping our promises

One of the biggest worries about aid is that promises made today may be forgotten tomorrow when the disaster or crisis drops off the TV. The 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran, is a case in point - a hundred million dollars was pledged by donor nations, but less than US$20 million has actually been paid out. So it's particularly good to see that the New Zealand government has already paid most of the $10 million it has pledged to the victims of the asian tsunami.

However, the general problem remains: how do we make sure our governments live up to their promises, rather than simply exploiting claims of generosity for political gain? Freedom of information and open government laws are particularly useful here, allowing us to watch our governments and make sure they deliver. All we need to do is remember to submit the requests, and publicise the results.

So, here's a promise: over the next year I will be using the OIA to keep an eye on the government's progress in this matter. I hope that some of you in other jurisdictions with freedom of information laws - the US and UK in particular - will do the same.