16 Dec 2010

Business focus in proposed NZ aid change queried

6:45 pm on 16 December 2010

An academic says a New Zealand parliamentary report calling for a business emphasis in Pacific aid spending shows little understanding of the links between poverty alleviation and economic development.

The foreign affairs, trade and defence committee's report on this country's relationship with the Pacific says much of the aid is wasted and wants more of the money to go to private sustainable enterprises.

A professor of development studies at Victoria University, John Overton, says few would dispute that promoting economic activity is part of the process of eliminating poverty, but it can't be the sole objective.

He says the report is short on detail on the sorts of businesses that might be backed.

"If we are looking at effective means of economic activity that address the needs of those that are less well off we need to look at particular strategies which focus on the needs of both the rural and urban poor, to look at issues of employment generation and so on. Those require rather more detailed and complex understandings of the way economic activity and poverty alleviation are linked."