AUSTRALIA COMMITS PHP4.4 BILLION IN AID TO THE PHILIPPINES
The Australian Government has increased its official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines to Php 4.4 billion (A$109.3 million) for fiscal year 2008-09, an increase of nearly nine per cent over the previous year. Australia is now the Philippines’ second largest bilateral grant aid donor.
Managed by the Australian Government’s agency for international development, AusAID, Australia’s ODA to the Philippines in the last decade has totalled more than Php25 billion (about A$670 million).
“Australia has long been a strong development partner of the Philippines, with our development cooperation program going back to the 1950s,” said Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Rod Smith. “Over the years, the Philippines aid program has become one of our largest globally.”
The Australian Government’s 2008-09 Budget lays the foundation for Australia to implement its long-term commitment to increase its global ODA to 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income by 2015-16.
Australia’s aid program in the Philippines is centred on three focus areas: economic growth, basic education, and national stability and human security.
Australia will continue to work with the Philippines to pursue necessary economic reforms, sustain fiscal discipline and macroeconomic stability, and strengthen planning and management of infrastructure investments. In the last two years Australia supported improved budget planning in the form of forward estimates, a paper on budget strategy and better performance management of government spending.
In 2008-09, Australia will increase its support to the Philippine Government’s infrastructure initiatives and provide over Php 425 million (A$11.2 million) to help upgrade and maintain critical road infrastructure at the national and local levels.
Australia is also helping public schools in the Philippines reach and maintain higher standards of basic education and to increase Filipino boys and girls’ access to education. Australia’s basic education initiatives are contributing to enhanced teaching and learning outcomes and assisting thousands of educators and school children in 18 provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Australian assistance has introduced new approaches to basic education delivery through the introduction and adoption of school-based management, enhancement of Muslim education curricula and access for indigenous people. Australia will provide about Php1.2 billion (approx A$32 million) in 2008-09 to support improvements in Muslim education and the Department of Education’s implementation of the Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA).
Australia will also continue to support peace building and post-conflict recovery programs in conflict affected areas, as well as the provision of basic health and malaria prevention services for vulnerable women and children.