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Govt 'shirking commitment' to reducing poverty

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Government has reneged on aid commitments to the world's poorest people, by cutting $133 million from its Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) budget over the next three years.

In 2000 New Zealand stood shoulder to shoulder with 188 other world leaders to commit to the Millennium Development Goals, a 15-year global plan to tackle poverty. As part of this commitment, we agreed to increase aid spending to 0.7% of Gross National Income. Yesterday's budget cuts will see New Zealand's commitment fall to 0.24% by 2014-15 - way behind other OECD countries.

Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF NZ, said, "As we approach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, New Zealand should be increasing aid not delivering a budget surplus on the backs of the world's poorest people.

"New Zealanders are amongst the most generous individual givers in the world - our government needs to reflect the attitudes of Kiwis in its aid policy. We can't ignore that 75% of the world's poorest people live in our Asia-Pacific neighbourhood. Food insecurity, climate change, natural disasters and the impact of a fragile global economy are all taking their toll on the world's poor. There could not be a worse time to turn our backs on those who need us most.

"Aid is an investment which does show returns. UNICEF research indicates that in 1990, 36,000 children were dying every day from poverty. Just 20 years later the number has reduced by 14,000 deaths a day. Meanwhile, research unveiled this week from the World Bank shows that Africa is experiencing some of the biggest falls in child mortality ever seen, anywhere.

"The fact is that aid does save and improve millions of lives but effective sustainable development takes years to foster. New Zealand can't afford to lose the momentum that we have helped to build in recent years.

'Other OECD countries, such as the UK, are experiencing difficult financial times yet are still delivering what they have promised when it comes to aid. New Zealand needs to make this commitment not only because it bolsters our security, economic stability and international standing of our country and region, but because ultimately it is the right thing to do."

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