12 Feb 2010

Forum secretariat head hits back at aid comments

8:28 am on 12 February 2010

The general secretary of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat says aid to the region cannot be seen as handouts, with most of it having to meet strict conditions.

Tuiloma Neroni Slade's comments followed those of a former governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, who told the Pacific Conference on the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis in Vanuatu this week that the region's "hooked" on aid.

Tuiloma says Pacific countries, disadvantaged by size and isolation, will always need aid but every year its recipients improve on the way they use it.

"But if aid is handled properly it can be a very efficient partnership mechanism and I think that is my point. It cannot be seen as handouts. I think it would be quite wrong for the Pacific to condition themselves as expecting aid to be given to them. I'm not advocating that. But what I'm saying is that aid is attracted to the region for a purpose; I think it is a judgement of performance."

Tuiloma Neroni Slade says corruption and low capacity can affect that performance and in order for there to be a high degree of mutuality about aid, these are issues that must be addressed.