Half of PNG aid budget spent on Consultants

By PNG correspondent Liam Fox, ABC News

There are calls for a major overhaul of Australia's $400 million aid program in Papua New Guinea, after a review concluded more than half of the money was spent on "technical assistance".

Australia is PNG's biggest aid donor and the joint review of the PNG-Australia Development Treaty says there have been some successes, like improving roads and tackling the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

But it has found widespread dissatisfaction in both countries and says the status quo cannot continue.
Australia's aid agency AusAID has been heavily criticised recently amid revelations it is paying some consultants six-figure tax-free salaries to provide technical assistance.
The review says overall the practice has made little difference to life in PNG and this method of capacity building does not work.

The review found Australian aid was being spread too thinly across too many areas and recommended a focus on improving education.
It recommends a reduction in the amount of money spent on technical assistance and says AusAID could do more to reduce the cost of hiring consultants.

The review also says non-government organisations - such as church groups and the health sector - should be given a greater role in delivering aid.

World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello says non-government aid organisations are better equipped to help Papua New Guinea.
"What we know about effectiveness in aid is that it is always about relationships, staying there a long time, winning the community trust, getting to the poorest and most vulnerable - not the fly in, fly out high-level stuff that's happening," he said.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/25/2908239.htm?section=justin



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