The National, Thursday 18th April 2013
By MALUM NALU
AUSAID deputy director-general James Batley says the A$490 million (K1.1 billion) in its 2013 budget for Papua New Guinea is being well spent.
Batley, who is in PNG to visit AusAID projects as well as hold discussions with the business community, told The National yesterday the money was being spent well on its four main focus areas of education, health, transport infrastructure, and law and order.
Flanked by head of AusAID in PNG Stuart Schaefer, he explained how Australian taxpayers’ money was being spent in PNG.
“My impression is that Australia’s aid programme to PNG is in very good shape at the moment,” Batley said.
“Obviously, we keep a very close check from Canberra, where I am based.
“My impression over the past few days here, from talking to people in Port Moresby and on the ground, is that the programme is well-focussed and is closely aligned with the priorities of the
“A few years ago, we had an external review of the aid programme that said that the programme was doing good work but it was trying to do too much, too many things, and that we should focus the work of the programme to make it have a better impact.
“Since that time, over the past two to three years, we have really focused the programme on four key areas: education, health, transport infrastructure, and law and order.
“We think that that’s a more effective way of doing business.
“We’ve also made some other changes in the way the programme runs.
“We’ve reduced the number of advisers in the aid programme by about 60%.
“A few years ago, we had about 500 advisers in the programme, now there’s less than 300.”
Batley said the other major change in AusAID was how it discussed projects to be funded with the PNG government.
“The other thing is that we’ve got a good process for sitting down with the government of PNG and agreeing on what our priorities should be,” he said.
“We’ve got this formal agreement with the government called ‘Partnership for Development’.
“Under the partnership, we agree on specific targets for development, what we are trying to achieve in education, health.
“We jointly commit to achieving those results.
“Every year, we sit down and review our progress, how we’re going.
“By that process, we think that we’re keeping better track on our work, and we’re getting better value for money.”