PHILIPPINES TO BE KEY RECIPIENT OF NEW AUSTRALIAN ANTI-POVERTY PACKAGE
Developing countries in the Asia Pacific region, including the Philippines, are expected to receive more development assistance on poverty reduction and counter-terrorism from Australia in the next 10 years.
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer made this announcement at the launch of the White Paper on Australia’s overseas aid program – Australian Aid: Promoting Growth and Stability.
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.
“By reaching out to the Asia-Pacific region, the Australian Government will aim to help millions of people overcome the scourge of poverty and live in peace and prosperity,” Mr Downer said.
The Asia Pacific region is home to 700 million people living in poverty. Some 1.9 billion people in the region live on less than A$2 a day. Mr Downer said the White Paper focuses on four key themes: accelerating economic growth, fostering functioning and effective states, investing in people, and promoting regional stability and cooperation.
"The Australian Government will focus on three overarching principles for the aid program: a greater commitment to gender equality across all aspects of the aid program; a closer partnership with recipient countries through the greater use of local systems and processes; and the untying of Australia’s aid to enhance competition and value for money.”
Specifically, the White Paper describes how Australia can best allocate its international aid to promote good governance; implement major initiatives in infrastructure and anti-corruption; provide children with more access to quality education; provide over 19,000 new education scholarships in the region; increase health assistance which focuses on basic services for women and children and on tackling malaria and HIV / AIDS; and untie the aid program to enable local and international companies to bid for the implementation of development projects.
Mr Downer added that the White Paper has recommended the establishment of an Office of Development Effectiveness which will publish an Annual Review of Development Effectiveness, ensuring that aid funds are wisely allocated and spent.
While the Australian Government will double its efforts towards poverty reduction, economic growth and security and stability, it will also help boost the capacity of countries in the region to combat the continuing and evolving threat of terrorism.
The Australian Government committed this week (9 May) an additional A$92.6 million over the next four years to boost the capacity of regional countries, including the Philippines, to combat the continuing and evolving threat of terrorism. The new measures, which were announced in Australia’s 2006-07 Budget, will build on existing regional cooperation in law enforcement, intelligence and border control.
In Manila, Australian Embassy Charge d’ Affaires Pablo Kang welcomed the recommendations made by the White Paper, especially the focus on education. “Educating children and leaders is a very wise investment for any developing country. We are pleased that the White Paper has recommended that the Australian aid program focus on getting more children into school for longer and for a better quality education.” Mr Kang said.
“As recommended by the White Paper, Australia will launch a new type of scholarship, Australian Leadership Awards, to help future leaders of our partner countries develop and maintain links with Australia,” Mr Kang announced.
Counsellor Angus Macdonald of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) said the Philippines will be a major beneficiary of changes in the Australian aid program.
“We expect a significant increase in the number of scholarship grants to Filipinos to enable them to take up courses in Australia that are relevant to Philippine development priorities.”
He added that 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 in our partner countries. By 2010, we expect the Philippines will be one of major recipients of Australian grant aid,” Mr Macdonald announced.
For more information about the White Paper – Australian Aid: Promoting Growth and Stability, see http://www.ausaid.gov.au/)