The budget delivered in Wellington last week contained no major surprises for aid. We’ve had a National Party government for nearly six years, and those years have already proven lean ones for aid. This year’s budget does not change that.
As it is budgeted, New Zealand’s aid spend for the coming financial year is effectively identical to this year’s. Although starting July 2015 (which is the first year of a new three year spending tranche) aid is – as Figure 1 below shows – forecast to rise in nominal terms.
Last week a team of Australian academics and development practitioners launched The Pacific Index, an endeavour — modelled on the Center for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Index – which attempts to measure and rank the extent to which the countries of the OECD contribute to development outcomes in the Pacific. Each OECD country’s score on the index is a combination of measures of its contributions to global public goods (such as attempting to tackle climate change) and its more direct contributions to the Pacific (particularly its level of trade with the Pacific, the number of migrants from the Pacific it is home to, and the quality and quantity of aid it gives to the region). Gathering data of this sort is hard work, and the dataset alone will be useful when it is released, so the team involved deserve to be congratulated for what they’ve achieved.
A two page summary of the index is here, while a somewhat longer report is here. Media reports on the index are here and here. As you can see from looking at the results chart on page 2 of the report, New Zealand ranks highest on the combined index, which in part reflects our very commendable efforts in areas such as migration and our Pacific focus as a country more generally.
New Zealand also scores higher than any other country on the individual aid component of the index. While technical details on the formulas which drive the index scores have not been released, I exchanged emails with one of the authors of the index over the week. From what he was able to tell me I think it would be a mistake to conclude the index suggests New Zealand’s gives better quality aid to the Pacific than other donors do.