NGOs welcome Australian gov't to launch foreign aid review

16:57, November 16, 2010      

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Non-government organizations (NGOs) on Tuesday welcomed Australian government's move to launch an independent panel to review Australia's foreign aid and development program.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on Tuesday announced the five-month foreign aid review will be conducted by development economists and experts from the non-government sector, and chaired by former senior diplomat and bureaucrat Sandy Hollway.

The review will examine the effectiveness and efficiency of Australia's aid and guide the strategic direction of the aid program.

According to Rudd, the aid review, which is the first independent review of Australia's aid program since 1996, came ahead of government plans to double the current aid budget of more than four billion U.S. dollars, so that the aid contributes 0.5 percent of Gross Domestic Products (GDP) by 2015/16.

The NGOs were hoping an independent review of foreign aid spending will deliver them a larger slice of Australia's aid budget.

According to the Australian Council for International Development, more could be done to better deal with "weak governments" to ensure the money gets through to the people who need it.

The council said the 0.5 percent of GDP target still lagged behind world standards.

"Australia should step up. We would love (a target of) 0.7, but at the moment we would want to assure Australians that 0.5 is actually being well spent," council spokesman and head of World Vision Australia Tim Costello told Australia Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that there also should be a focus on the role of women, who make up a majority of the region's poor.

Meanwhile, Archie Law, CEO of Not for Profit anti-poverty agency ActionAid Australia said with Australia's foreign aid budget expecting to double between now and 2015, the review is long overdue.

Law expressed concern the review will focus narrowly on the role of aid in driving economic growth at the expense of other important goals, such as human rights.

He expressed concern that the consultation process will ignore the voices of the poor. He said these are the people who have been, and will be, directly impacted by the government's aid program.

The Catholic aid agency Caritas Australia welcomed the move, and said it hoped the review would deepen public awareness and understanding of the nation's aid commitments, and drive greater transparency and accountability by developing key targets and performance indicators.

The foreign aid review panel will consult with key stakeholders, including non-government organizations, relevant Australian government departments, regional partner organizations and bilateral and multilateral donors.

Source: Xinhua


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