Australia coalition calls for inquiry into foreign aid budget

12:41, May 24, 2010      

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The Australian federal coalition on Monday called for an independent inquiry into how Australia's foreign aid budget was spent, amid claims that consultants were being paid millions of dollars that should go to the poor.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said she has concerned taxpayers were not getting value for money under programs delivered by AusAID.

The federal government has increased foreign aid from 3.8 billion Australian dollars (3.13 billion U.S. dollars) to 4.3 billion dollars (3.55 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010/11 in the May budget.

"I call on the government to hold an independent inquiry into Australia's foreign aid program," Bishop told reporters on Monday.

"Particularly, whether the taxpayers are getting value for money."

The Australian National Audit Office last year has raised "very serious concerns" about AusAID's reliance on highly-paid consultants and its ability to properly manage any large funding increase.

"There are serious concerns that Australia's aid is not getting through to the people who need it most," Bishop said.

The public would be less likely to support aid programs if it was shown money was being wasted, Bishop said.

"The Australian people are extremely generous.

"But public support for a massive foreign aid program depends upon aid being delivered effectively and efficiently."

AusAID (the Australian Agency for International Development) is the Australian Government agency responsible for managing Australia's overseas aid program.

The objective of the aid program is to assist developing countries to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development, in line with Australia's national interest.

Source: Xinhua


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