The Council for World Mission (CWM) Pacific region Churches have criticised the Government’s move to take New Zealand’s aid emphasis off poverty reduction, and to merge NZAID back into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
CWM Pacific region spokesperson the Rev Martin Baker says the Pacific churches are particularly concerned that the New Zealand Government has changed its primary aid focus from reduction of poverty to economic development.
“Economic development must also benefit the Pacific poor, and the Churches have seen no evidence that economic development projects create a trickle-down effect to the poorest peoples,” the Rev Baker says.
“Many of the poor do not have the means to trade their way out of poverty; these are people who do not even have such basic essentials as adequate food and clean water, so money going to economic development projects is not going to reach them.”
The Rev Baker says that aid should go firstly where it is most needed; to the neediest people.
“The recession is impacting the poorer Pacific nations and things are only going to get worse. The Pacific Churches are deeply concerned that New Zealand has removed the aid safety net - lives could be lost.”
The Rev Baker says the Pacific region Churches dismiss Mr McCully’s criticism of NZAID.
“NZAID has been applauded for its work internationally. It was favourably peer reviewed by the OECD, so there is no mandate for Mr McCully to make this unilateral decision”.
The Rev Baker says the Government’s move shows that New Zealand is out of step with the world as most developed nations consider poverty alleviation strategies to work. Recently, the International Monetary Fund handed down a ringing endorsement of aid focus on poverty relief.
“We do not believe that Mr McCully has a better understanding than the IMF of the aid needs of the poorest Pacific nations,” the Rev Baker says. “But we are confident that New Zealand tax payers, and voters, are aware of their obligation to their Pacific neighbours; they know of the great disparity between their lifestyles and those of their poorer sisters and brothers in the Pacific. They know there is a moral imperative to provide aid to their poorest neighbours.”
Notes to reporter:
The Council for World Mission (CWM) is a worldwide community of 31 Christian denominations working as equals with a common commitment to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Established in 1977, it grew out of the London Mission Society, the Commonwealth (Colonial) Missionary Society and the (English) Presbyterian Board of Missions.
The CWM Pacific region is comprised of nine churches:
The Rev Martin Baker, Assembly Executive Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.