The best laid plans of New Zealand aid budgets

Hello NZADDs readers,

Picture this: 3am this morning in the NZADDs War Room. Someone is crying, looking at a pile of broken semi-colons. A man is shouting angrily, in French, at the OECD’s website. And yet the response is written. The head NZADDs econometrician turns off her calculator and places it neatly in her briefcase. The philosopher in residence tosses his beard over his shoulder and strides out into the night air.

Our reply to Vinny Nagaraj is up on the Devpolicy blog. You can read it here.

By the way of back story, recall that at the time of the last New Zealand budget we wrote a blog post stating that the NZ aid programme was still having trouble meeting aid budget targets, and that this was concerning. We contended that the problems were to do with what might best be called ‘the domestic political context’ in New Zealand.

Vinny Nagaraj, the chief economic advisor at the aid programme, responded with a very well argued blog arguing that the issue was minor, and that the New Zealand aid programme is well-regarded for its aid planning (this is a paraphrase; definitely read Vinny’s post).

In today’s reply we emphasise what we see as the key empirical evidence and why we think it points to an issue. We also agree with Vinny that aid programme staff do their best to plan spending. We provide additional evidence, however, showing why we do not think this planning is actually translating into predictable aid spending.

To be clear, we do not think (and have never argued) that any issues are the fault of aid programme staff.

On a happy note. We are very grateful for the engagement from the aid programme. We’ve learnt from the exchange. And we hope there will be many more of these interactions to come.

Also, we would love to hear from you: the New Zealand aid community. You can email us, of course, but better still, comment on one of the three blog posts in question.