Australia pumps up aid to region

National, Normal

The National, Thursday, May 12, 2011

AUSTRALIA will increase its aid to the region, including Papua New Guinea, in 2011-12 “to save as many lives, educate as many children and lift as many people out of poverty as we can with our aid investment,” foreign minister Kevin Rudd said in his budget statement on Tuesday.
“Our aid is achieving results and saving lives,” he said, adding that since 2009 Australia had helped immunise 900,000 children in PNG against measles and other diseases and the support for a global vaccine initiative had helped immunise 288 million children worldwide and prevented an estimated 5.4 million deaths.
“We have helped halve malaria rates in the Solomon Islands. Over the past five years we have created places for 330,000 poor children to go to school in Indonesia and will create another 300,000 places over the next five years.
“Since 2009 in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Vietnam and the Solomon Islands, we have provided safe water to 600,000 people and improved sanitation services to 400,000 people.”
The Australian budget was tabled in Canberra on Tuesday night by Treasurer Wayne Swan.
Rudd said that in 2011-12, Australian aid would increase to A$4.836 billion (0.35% of gross national income), up from A$4.362 billion (0.33% of GNI) in 2010-11.
He said new measures totalling A$1.9 billion during the next four years would deliver on the Labour government’s election and other commitments on water and sanitation, avoidable blindness, education, maternal and child health, and ending violence against women.
Most of this new assistance would go to Australia’s nearest neighbours, particularly Indonesia and PNG, among the Pacific nations, Rudd said.
Australia’s top five bilateral aid recipients in 2011-12 are expected to be Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, Afghanistan and Vietnam.
These countries were the top five recipients in 2010-11.
In the Pacific region, PNG again will get the lion’s share of the official development assistance grant – A$482.3 million compared with A$454.1 million in 2010-11 followed by the Solomon Islands A$261.6 million (A$269.1 million) and Vanuatu A$70.1 million (A$59.1 million) followed by Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, Niue and North Pacific.
Rudd said to ensure that Australia’s aid programme could be even better, they established the independent review of aid effectiveness last November and the government would make a formal response to the review in the middle of the year.
“I am committed to delivering efficient and effective aid.
“We have already made a good start.
“A recently concluded review will see the number of overseas advisers in the aid programme  decrease by 25% over the next two years with funds freed up to support more health and education services,” Rudd said.