25 May 2012

NZ foreign minister justifies flatlined aid budget

4:38 pm on 25 May 2012

The New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, denies there are aid cuts in the budget, saying funding is just not increasing as previously projected.

Aid agencies and the opposition criticised the 100 million US dollars reduction of aid funding over the next three years.

But Mr McCully says there is no cut in aid, describing the changed allocation as flatlined for the next two years.

He says budget statistics give the artificial impression next year's allocation is smaller than last year's because the 2011/12 budget included funding rolled over from the previous year.

Mr McCully says a target of 450 million US dollars will be met in 2015/16 after accounts are back in balance.

He says meeting the targets later is a conscious decision resulting from the need to absorb the cost of the Christchurch earthquake.

The minister says despite the lack of projected increase all existing programmes can be continued at current levels, but there may be changes in priorities.