AUSTRALIA INCREASES AID TO THE PHILIPPINES
More Australian aid for the Philippines is expected this year. Australian Ambassador Tony Hely has announced that the Australian Government has approved close to A$70 million in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines for 2006-2007, up by over A$8 million from the 2005-2006 program.
Ambassador Hely said the increase in aid to the Philippines would place the Philippines among the top six recipients of Australian aid.
Managed by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Australian aid to the Philippines is entirely in the form of grants.
AusAID Counsellor Angus Macdonald said Australian aid is delivered through different mechanisms: project aid involving an Australian managing contractor with support staff from Australia and its partner countries; Australian funds directed through United Nations specialised agencies; in association with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank; and direct funding to Filipino non-government organisations.
“Planning and delivery of most aid is through our bilateral country program to the Philippines. Country strategies are discussed with the Philippine Government at annual High Level Consultations, and major decisions are made jointly,” Mr Macdonald said. “But some additional aid is channelled to the Philippines through our regional program as well,” he added.
The current Country Program Strategy (CPS) has a wide range of activities aimed at making a difference for millions of people, and laying the ground work to ensure the benefits continue after aid projects are completed.
“Under the CPS 2004-2008, the Philippines and Australia continues to pursue the goal of poverty reduction through three broad objectives: improve economic governance in key government agencies to create the environment for broad-based growth and improve fiscal and economic management; strengthen security and stability through counter-terrorism capacity building and support for the Mindanao peace process; and improve the living standards of the rural poor in the southern Philippines by increasing the quality of, and access to, education and training, and addressing local-level constraints to rural income growth and human development through an area-focused approach in selected provinces,” Mr Macdonald explained.
He added that the three strategic objectives are closely intertwined. Progress on governance and security issues is a prerequisite for sustainable rural development, while security and stability have major impacts on the environment for private sector engagement. The Australian aid program also recognises that gender equity and environmental concerns cut across all sectors of development assistance to the Philippines.
This year, the Philippines and Australia are scheduled to hold high level consultations to review the current program strategy and map out a new one that will be attuned to changing development priorities in the Philippines.
Mr Macdonald said that the new strategy will take into consideration the recommendations of the Australian White Paper on Aid which was recently released in Canberra. The White Paper will direct the delivery of Australia’s overseas aid over the next 10 years, including how the Australian Government will approach the projected doubling of international aid to A$4 billion annually in 2010, as announced by Australian Prime Minister John Howard in September 2005.
“With this development, there will be more Australian assistance to the Philippines in the areas of basic education, governance, security and stability, and health. Australia’s expanded aid program will be more closely aligned to effectiveness and to active reform,” Mr Macdonald announced.