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NZ aid to Pacific needs more focus report
By Online Editor
1:28 pm GMT+12, 14/12/2010, New Zealand
New Zealand aid funds in the Pacific are being stretched thin and need to have increased focus, according to a Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee report.

The Pacific Inquiry into New Zealand's Relationships with South Pacific Countries, which has been tabled in Parliament, contained more than 40 recommendations for the Government to consider.

Among the recommendations, the committee called for an increased focus for the $600 million of aid given to the region, saying that efforts were being spread to widely.

It suggested that $100 million of aid funds be channelled through existing trading banks on normal commercial terms to Pacific Islanders with “sound business plans”.

“The proposal would help Pacific Islanders engage in activity to harvest, process, and market their own resources,” committee chairman and National MP John Hayes said.

The report also raised concerns about the lack of New Zealand media coverage in the region, and suggested that greater support be given to broadcasting in the Pacific.

Mr Hayes said the committee's aim had been to investigate the role New Zealand played and could play in helping Pacific Island Forum nations to develop sustainable economies.

“It is clearly time for a concerted effort by the New Zealand Government to develop a clear strategy toward each of our Pacific neighbours, and to act on it,” Mr Hayes said.

The Government was expected to respond to the report within 90 days.

SOURCE: NZPA/PACNEWS

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