Yemen, Papua New Guinea, Business and Aid

If you’re like me, you will have spent the last few weeks wondering why Air New Zealand was doing repairs for the Saudi navy while Saudi Arabia was busy waging an atrocity-stained war in Yemen. Oxfam New Zealand’s Darren Brunk has a great Devpolicy blog on this. It contains important suggestions about what should be done to prevent the problem happening again, and how MFAT needs to play a lead role in this.

Meanwhile on the Incline Blog, former New Zealand High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Marion Crawshaw, has a post urging New Zealand to become more actively involved in the aid response to the spread of Covid-19 in PNG.

The day Ms Crawshaw’s post came out, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, put out a press release outlining New Zealand’s contributions to the Covid-19 response in PNG. The press release is an excellent sign, but the specific issue will be one to keep watching in coming weeks.

On aid more broadly, New Zealand is nearing the end of an aid budget triennia. As we speak, politicians and bureaucrats will be deciding how much aid we’ll give in the coming three years. Over the last triennium, largely thanks to Winston Peters (?!?), New Zealand’s aid budget rose.

As best I can tell, however, unlike Australia, we have not further increased aid, or made any announcements that we will. We have responded to the pandemic, of course, but this has simply involved already budgeted funds. The need for our aid is on the rise. In developing countries, there is the pandemic itself, the associated economic impacts of the pandemic, and all the other issues that haven’t gone away in the meantime. New Zealand needs to respond by giving more aid. 

A meaningful increase would not come at a huge cost to New Zealand: aid is about 1% of government spending.

Morally and practically, we’re all on this planet together. Our current government is great when it comes to caring international rhetoric. We need to match it though in the next three years with a real focus on giving more aid and making sure our aid is effective.

Terence for NZADDs admin.