Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Increasing aid?

The Dominion Post this morning reports that the government will be increasing foreign aid spending in the next budget by $50 million per year. However, somewhat counterintuitively, this increase is expected to cause "only a marginal lift in aid spending as a percentage of gross national income, to just 0.28 per cent". Given that that's the level it was planned to be at anyway, I'm not sure what's going on - whether there's a real increase and the reporter has muffed it, or whether the government is announcing its existing spending as if it were news (though the numbers don't seem to match there either). I guess we'll find out in the budget next month...


The answer is that $50 million is only a tiny percentage of GDP: it only increases our contribution by .03% of GDP.

I don't think government contributions as a proportion of GDP are a fair or reasonable measure internationally. We rank at the bottom of the OECD economically, and the real issue is whether we are taking responsibility for countries within our region. A lot of non-NZAID assistance is given to our poorer neighbours, and not included--military aid to the Solomons and East Timor, for example.

Simply paying out more money to the Cooks, Niue, and Tonga to somehow make us feel better in the international rankings doesn't achieve anything.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 4/10/2007 12:46:00 PM

The answer is that $50 million is only a tiny percentage of GDP: it only increases our contribution by .03% of GDP.

Except that we're seeing a reported 13% increase in spending measured one way leading to a 4% increase in spending measured another. The numbers just don't add up.

Frequently non-financial assistance is charged to NZAID; for example the use of RNZAF aircraft and police staff in the wake of the 2005 Tsunami came right out of NZAID's budget (I did some poking into this at the time, as I had read reports that some countries charge inflated prices for this sort of aid, rather than actual cost).

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/10/2007 01:05:00 PM

look buddy... i don't know who the hell you are, but unless you start swearing, bandying around the phrase "pinko scum" and generally acting completely irrationally i'd prefer if you don't use insolent prick's name.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2007 01:07:00 PM

I thought total official ODA for 06/07 $397 Million:
(i.e more than in the newspaper report).

Oh well, it's an increase I guess - just not all one might have hoped for.

The other thing is that GNI will be higher next year. I think this may be why the percentage increase appears so low.

Posted by Terence : 4/10/2007 01:12:00 PM

I haven't seen the different reports of measures, other than to say the baseline ODA contributions have increased by about 100% over the last six years.

Disaster relief, such as the tsunami, comes out of supplementary estimates, rather than core ODA funding. I very much doubt that military contribution to the Solomons, East Timor, and indeed military reconstruction in Afghanistan comes out of the ODA budget.

Fuck you, Che. What the fuck kind of name is "Tibby"? Next you'll be saying your middle name is "Yossarian".

Posted by Insolent Prick : 4/10/2007 01:50:00 PM

Oh – the story I’ve just heard (which I presume is correct) is that all the numbers used in the Dom report are simply those earmarked last year (so it’s not a budget leak or anything). And that the budget could plausibly still contain better news. (Or not, I guess).

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2007 02:14:00 PM


No. Disaster relief is included OECD ODA measures. Military stuff (IIRC) is not.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2007 02:16:00 PM

there you go. much better.

and ps. "tibby" means "ship's cat". my ancestors were whalers in the 1830s.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2007 02:21:00 PM

For anyone who's really interested: some 'military stuff' is included in ODA, though not generally in the NZAID budget. The OECD Development Assistance Committee has rules about what can and can't be counted as aid. Things like peacekeeping activities don't count as ODA, however worthwhile they may be, but reconstruction work carried out by the military (eg by NZ military personnel in Afghanistan) can be counted as ODA.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/10/2007 09:34:00 PM