Report – By Rory MacKinnon, in Wellington.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand will not meet its pledge to donate 0.7 percent of GDP as foreign aid by the United Nations’ 2015 deadline.
Key told reporters at Parliament Monday the Government had “one or two” announcements to make at the Pacific Islands Forum later this week – but increased overseas development aid would not be one of them.
Oxfam New Zealand and other aid agencies had renewed calls in the past week for Key to announce a timetable of aid increases in order to meet its obligations under the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
Signed in 2000, the Goals included a pledge by 23 countries to commit 0.7 percent of its gross national income to overseas aid by 2015 – but with only five years to go, New Zealand’s contribution is just 0.29 percent.
Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands have already exceeded the 0.7 pledge and 11 others have announced plans to meet the 2015 deadline.
But New Zealand has not announced a timetable and was ranked just sixteenth in an OECD report on signatories’ progress, released in April.
New Zealand had signed and ratified the Goals under the former Labour Government, but Key had indicated the National party would honour the agreement.
But Key said Monday the country could not afford to more than double its aid commitment in the five years remaining.
“We’re not going to get there by 2015; by the way neither is the United States of America and a whole lot of other people.”
0.7 percent was a long-term ambition, he said, and New Zealand had been active in the Pacific with trade and other programmes.
Key insisted New Zealand had a timetable for overseas aid, but could not say when the Government planned to reach 0.7 percent.
Key flatly rejected suggestions that it sent a message that New Zealand was not serious about its aid commitments.
He was “pretty sure” the Government would increase its aid funding to around $600m – or 0.45 percent – sometime before 2015.
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Rory MacKinnon is a political reporter with Scoop.co.nz and based in Wellington.