1 May 2009

NZ foreign minister says aid reform to improve delivery

4:12 pm on 1 May 2009

The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, says changes to the New Zealand aid and development agency, NZAID, are aimed at ensuring that its service delivery is enhanced.

Mr McCully announced today that the process of re-absorbing the semi autonomous aid agency, NZAID back in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began last week.

Mr McCully says the change will improve aid delivery and see a change in emphasis from poverty elimination to economic development.

He says the changes will happen gradually because the last thing the Government wants to do is break the aid delivery machinery.

"We want to make sure that both NZAID and the NGOs that are partners remain in good shape, that the relationships remain strong and that we are actually looking at an enhanced delivery capability rather than one that has been messed around by insufficient care in the transition process."

Mr McCully says the changes will include a closer alignment of trade and aid policy and discussions on how to achieve this have already been held with Australia.

Oxfam New Zealand says changes announced today could lead to New Zealand's aid budget being used for political purposes.

Oxfam's executive director, Barry Coates, says the reason to have a semi-autonomous body was so that it had a clear mandate, and no mix with other objectives.

The real danger is that aid is going to be diverted to help New Zealand's political agenda or our commercial aims such as trade negotiations or something like that. So we are concerned that the changes announced today have removed the structural creation of a separate New Zealand Aid as a department.

Barry Coates says any structural changes must ensure that the aid budget is not used for other purposes.