new zealand aid and uncle scrooge

And goodnight from NZAID, as the New Zealand government folds its aid programme back into the ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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NZAID is dead.
Well coordinated as it was, the NGO campaign warning government against changes to the aid programme - Don't Corrupt Aid - failed to move Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully, once regarded as the "dark prince" of New Zealand politics.
Lost in the furore is the fact that New Zealand has yet to live up to big-talking promises on the global stage. An Avaiki Nius Agency Follow Up offers a look back, a reminder that as well as boots on the ground in East Timor and Afghanistan, New Zealand needs more bucks on the ground in the Pacific.
New Zealand is among the seven meanest members of the world's richest countries, says a Green party spokesman on aid.
"New Zealand stands a miserly 16th out of 22 OECD donors -- the seventh most Scrooge-like rich nation on earth," Kennedy Graham told a summit on aid, organised by the opposition Labour party earlier this year.
OECD is made up of 30 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Brussels. New Zealand has consistently paid lip service to increase aid spending to internationally agreed levels and place much greater focus on Pacific Islands, claim critics.
Simmering controversy erupted when Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully unexpectedly launched a full frontal attack on New Zealand aid agency, NZAID, accusing it of offering a "hand out" not a "hand up" to people in developing countries. Focus on "poverty elimination" was a feel-good waste of money better spent on real growth in "economic development."
Memorably, he evoked an aid utopia: ""You could ride around in a helicopter pushing hundred-dollar notes out the door and call that poverty elimination."
Sounds like the Iraq war.
Civil society organisations - many of them leading recipients of NZAID support - reacted in horror to the sneer, accusing McCully of unilaterally withdrawing from global aid structures. The NGOs combined with rare speed to start a campaign featuring a blunt warning.
McCully's provocative outburst was all the more curious for its timing - coming the same week as an otherwise triumphant visit by Kiwi prime minister John Key to his counterpart in Canberra, Kevin Rudd. Both leaders stepped out especially to announce a special review into impacts of the global economic meltdown on vulnerable Pacific Islands economies.
Their announcement was all but lost in the McCully furore.
Links to the "don't corrupt aid" campaign appeared on the Facebook page for John Key.
Reporting the 'summit' in apostrophes, the New Zealand Press Association quoted the Green's Kennedy as saying said the appointment of former prime minister Helen Clark to head the United Nations Development Programme presented an opportunity for New Zealand to raise its level of aid and become "a responsible global citizen".
Dr Graham said New Zealand's aid stood at 0.27 percent of GNI (gross national income).
He said Prime Minister John Key should forge a cross-party alliance and take New Zealand up the aid charts to the level of "Nordic countries."
Five countries have already reached UN aid targets of .7% of NGI, and exceeded them, the highest reaching 95 cents in $100 of GNI. Of them, four are Nordic. Figures from an aid watchdog show New Zealand in the bottom six OECD countries, with "no schedule" announced for reaching the point seven percent figure by 2015, target date for reaching the Millennium Development Goals, an eight point global manifesto for reducing poverty.
Notable for main stream economic theory and, more valuable, peer review among those members, OECD partners have repeatedly urged New Zealand to live up to its international commitments.
They have also urged New Zealand to place a much greater focus on the islands.
Instead, locally the move by McCully is seen, at worst, as suspiciously reminescent of previous episodes of aid-driven "corporate welfarism" for big-country, big business interests.
Summit organiser, Labour MP Phil Twyford said the main message from the meeting was that consultation with political parties and the public was essential.
"Unfortunately, what's going on is a secretive process to abolish NZAid and completely upend the policy focus and the mandate of half a billion dollars of taxpayer money."
Like Australia, "New Zealand Inc" scrambles to evince a Pacific Way ambience while imposing what long term concerns describe as "bullying" tactics on its island partners. Part of increasingly deathly-desperate attempts to rescue world trade talks - the more countries sign up the better - the same allegations are levelled at the European Union, thought to be third most important aid donor in the region.
In doing so, all three risk appearing hopelessly out-of-step with emerging global consensus against "more of the same" policies that dragged the planetary economy and its climate into global meltdown.
Against two decades of free market fundamentalism is an impression that world economic processes are so broken they need tossing into the back yard and replaced with a new web2 gov2 approach to looming disaster within the next few decades, a world of food riots, water wars, and a worldwide descent from diplomacy to anarchy.
This is not what might have been hoped for from National Party promises to look towards "innovative" solutions to the economic crisis.
This agency has previously criticised New Zealand's record in the Pacific Islands as "petty, penny-pinching and parochial."
Yet to cast New Zealand aid efforts as akin to Uncle Scrooge is to miss the seriousness of the risks involved in the McCully move to disband NZAID and return control to his own ministry.
Given there is half a billion aid dollars at stake, the petty part no longer makes as much sense and, if the critics are right about corruption, then it gives penny-pinching a whole new twist.
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