Wednesday, May 09, 2018

About time

Yesterday the government announced there would be more money for MFAT in the upcoming budget - including a big boost to foreign aid:

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has secured $900 million in extra funding for more diplomats and international aid in the Budget, saying the extra spending is needed in a "turbulent" global environment.

The funding over four years will include $191m for an extra 50 diplomats and the reopening of New Zealand's embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.

However, the vast bulk of it, $714m, will be in aid spending targeting the Pacific, and going into the UN and World Bank. Peters said he expected more to follow.

Peters said that would be aimed at responding to climate change, contributions to the United Nations and the World Bank and helping humanitarian agencies respond to natural disasters.

About time. New Zealand spends pathetically little on foreign aid, less than half of the 0.7% of GNI target we have publicly committed to. This new spending will boost it from 0.23% of GNI, where it had slipped to under National, back up to 0.28%, which is where it was when they took power. So, it undoes the damage of the past nine years, but doesn't really fix the underlying problem. But hopefully with a government which takes aid seriously rather than seeing it as a vehicle for cronyism, we might finally start heading in the right direction.