New Zealand gov't cautious on UN call to increase Pacific aid
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said on Sunday that the government has to be careful not to go beyond what it thinks New Zealanders will tolerate in the amount of aid it sends to poorer nations, Xinhua reported.
He made the remarks following a senior United Nations official' s call for New Zealand to increase its present aid commitment of 0. 35 percent of the country's national income, given that its Pacific neighbors, already battling food and climate emergencies, were now facing the global financial crisis.
UN Millennium Campaign director Salil Shetty said New Zealand is just 15th out of 22 OECD countries in the percentage of its GDP set aside for overseas aid.
But McCully said governments that try to be more generous than the public would like, are punished for it. He said it is important to have broad political support and strong support from the public.
The Millennium Campaign in 2000 set goals for developing countries to reach by 2015, including halving the number of people living in extreme poverty. New Zealand and 188 other countries pledged to help poor nations reach those goals.
Shetty was attending a weekend conference at Victoria University on ways of maintaining New Zealand's overseas aid commitment during the global downturn.
More than 300 politicians, researchers, aid agencies and government officials were discussing how to continue sending aid offshore.
New Zealand's aid to the Pacific is generally well regarded, but several speakers said they believe New Zealand has more than enough resources to increase its aid to the region.
The New Zealand government is being told it can do a lot for New Zealand's Pacific neighbors by ensuring its unemployment benefits are kept at a reasonable level.
The Wellington conference has been told that 40 percent of children in the world's poorest countries could suffer permanent brain damage as a result of malnutrition during the global financial crisis.