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Delay in tsunami aid to Pacific stuns McCully
10:13 am GMT+12, 30/06/2010, New Zealand

Aid from New Zealand to Pacific tsunami victims was stalled for more than a week by a tender process, leaving Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully “stunned” and “disappointed”.

As a result, the Government is setting up two new multimillion-dollar funds to speed up disaster relief.

Mr McCully told the foreign affairs and trade select committee this week that he was disappointed a time-consuming tender process was needed before money could be allocated to aid agencies after the Pacific earthquake and tsunami last September.

“I was stunned after the Pacific tsunami that we had to go through a short-form tender process to distribute funds that needed to be allocated within hours,” Mr McCully said.

A magnitude 8.3 earthquake triggered the tsunami that killed 180 people in American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga on September 29.

Aid agency (NGO) funding for reconstruction work in Samoa was not made final till 08 October.

Mr McCully said the Government was setting up a new humanitarian response fund to replace a similar fund worth $5m. A further $21m fund, known as the Koha fund, would also be replaced with a sustainable development fund. The money would be reallocated from existing spending, but he wanted to increase the amount.

He told the committee he wanted the Government to do more of its aid through NGOs.

The Government has cut about $1m from the budget of the Council for International Development, which allocated funding to NGOs. The council is restructuring and is suspending its training, policy and research work.

Labour MP Phil Twyford said the cut to CID funding had “sent a rather alarming signal” to NGOs. But Mr McCully said more money needed to be allocated to people in need “rather than to an entity in New Zealand that might be seen as a political lobby group”.


SOURCE: STUFF NZ/PACNEWS


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