Letter To The Editor

May 6, 2009

Dear Editor,

With regards the article by Helen Hakena, of the Leitana Nehan Women’s Agency in Bougainville, saying the change in policy by NZ Aid to focus on sustainable development instead of poverty elimination won't work, perhaps she might consider the point of view of the New Zealand tax payer.

If all of the aid funds that have already been poured into the NGOs and various Aid Agencies for poverty elimination had been effective, poverty in the Pacific would have been banished years ago. I believe it's time for another approach. And before we hear wails of anguish from the NGO's, they need to consider that the millions of aid funds NZ pours into the Pacific each year is NOT NZ Government money. It comes from the high taxes paid by ordinary Kiwi's who, to allow aid funds to go offshore, suffer two year waiting lists for hospital treatment, under funded schools and infrastructure and other maladies that we shouldn't see, given the huge tax take our government gets. Likewise for Australia, Japan, the USA and China - it's NOT government money.

In the Pacific, how many Pacific Island Governments are unblemished by poor decision making and corrupt practice? How much "aid money" goes into Consultants Reports? How much aid money just "disappears"? How many NGO workers don't have to pay tax on earnings? In our own country I've seen first hand what happens when "consultants" are employed - where a hundred thousand dollar report by a consultant came out as an inch thick document that just told us exactly what we already knew and is now consigned to a dusty shelf. A total waste of time and money.

How much money, funded for poverty elimination, has only eliminated the poverty from the wallets of those employed in those programmes? How many of those NGO staff, criticising the change the NZ Government Stance are worried about their own, often well paid positions? I have no issue with aid, I believe it is essential that those better off help their fellow man, irrespective of where he or she is from and free from any political constraints. It's just that I want to see effective results with my money.

If you want to see really effective aid visit Koroipita Village near Lautoka. See what happens when one man has a vision to help others, see the housing for the homeless, the gardens they have planted. While alleviating the poverty was the end goal, look closely at how this has been done - at the economic development going on to make it sustainable - the chicken raising facility, the plant nursery, how many women have sewing machines, or men hand tools? How many children are getting a decent education! How many people, who had nothing, now have pride and a future. That is effective aid!

That's the kind of aid project I want to support, and where I want the dollars funded via my government to go. Where I can see tangible results, and where the money spent actually lessens demand for it, instead of it being soaked up and constantly needing to have more thrown into the pot. At the end of the days it is my money and we here, hold our government accountable. So Good on Murray McCully!

Kind regards

Alan Peacock Canterbury, NZ

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