New Zealand Finance Minister Grant Roberston’s latest budget has left advocacy organisations across the country disappointed, with no increases recorded for international aid despite “ongoing global crises in health and food security and rising poverty.”
The country’s Council for International Development (CID) said that while disappointed, they are not surprised.
"At a time when the cost of living crisis is front and centre in people’s minds, it is perhaps no surprise that international aid took a back seat in this year’s budget headlines,” the umbrella agency for New Zealand organisations working in international development wrote in a statement.
Oxfam New Zealand echoed CID’s comments and explained that despite political pressure to address internal economic shocks like rising fuel and food costs, it is imperative that the country looks beyond its shores and acknowledge the “interconnected nature of global crises.”
"The hardship we experience is connected. Our response must be this connected too,” they said in a press release.
Oxfam and CID have also called for greater transparency in this year’s budget.
The organisations say that while an additional NZ$75 million funding allotment for an initiative providing emergency support to Pacific countries seems positive, it's almost impossible to tell whether this money is new or withdrawn from another critical aid project.
Read more about the next steps in our plan for a secure future here: https://t.co/Tul7PWxCY8— New Zealand Labour (@nzlabour) May 19, 2022
Around the world, hundreds of millions of people live in extreme poverty.
The United Nations (UN) urges all wealthy countries to contribute 0.7% of gross national income to their international aid budget. That money, the UN states, should then specifically go toward projects that work to alleviate global poverty, provide humanitarian assistance and address problems that disproportionately affect the world's most vulnerable people like hunger and climate change.
New Zealand currently spends just 0.27% of its gross national income on aid, with falls of 0.02% projected by next year.
The country’s international development sector has long said a 20% increase is required to meet global needs.
While this year’s budget hasn’t delivered on aid in the way many had hoped, significant announcements were made to advance Māori health and well-being, strengthen the country’s transport system and upgrade hospitals.
The health system overall received its largest-ever investment.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that this year’s budget ultimately had two critical goals.
"First, ensure Aotearoa New Zealand's economic and social security for generations to come by investing in the infrastructure that will build a better country for everyone while making us less vulnerable to external shocks,” she said. “And second, Budget 2022 will cushion the impact of the inflation cycle on families.”