When the budget was released in May, I lamented New Zealand’s lack of government aid transparency. (Read the Devpolicy blog here, or the NZADDs budget update here.)
To its credit, MFAT has now placed some very helpful aid data on its website. In particular, it states how much it plans to spend over the next three years in each of its main Pacific partners and Timor Leste, as well as regional totals for the rest of the world.
To be clear, this isn’t the end of our transparency woes. There are other areas where more information is still in short supply. To give one example, it would be great if the 23 four-year international development cooperation plans for country and other programmes were placed online when finalised.
Nevertheless, this is a real transparency improvement and the Aid Programme deserves credit for it. (Thanks also to the Twitter user who alerted me to the new data.)
Terence for NZADDs admin.
Welcome to my promised second email on the New Zealand government’s aid budget. I’ve had more time to look at numbers, more time to struggle with spreadsheets, and more time to think about issues with the data. Here’s what I’ve found. Note first though that:
(1) I’ve made a data pack, which you can download, that shows source data and workings and more details.
(2) I was wrong in my last email to emphasise the importance of Cook Islands. It’s one of our larger aid recipients, and it is no longer eligible for ODA (as per OECD rules), but it doesn’t get enough New Zealand aid to change the high-level figures much. And so, for simplicity’s sake, all numbers in this newsletter include aid to the Cooks. (In the data pack l show what happens with it removed if you’re interested.)
(3) Government aid reporting is not nearly transparent enough. This is a broader issue. For now though, one consequence is that I have had to make estimates at times. You can read details in the data pack. The estimates will be off, no doubt, but they will not change the big picture much.
Future aid flows, and inflation adjusted aid
This chart shows you projected New Zealand aid (based on my estimates) until the end of the current triennial aid spend. The chart also shows you inflation adjusted aid figures (using Treasury data on past inflation and predicted future inflation).
As you can see from the orange line in the chart, with inflation taken into account, aid will fall in the coming financial year. It will grow, but only ever so slightly, in the following two financial years.