Waylaid Dialectic

November 12, 2010

New Zealand Aid Levels — did I get it wrong?

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 9:26 am
Tags: , , ,

During the talk that gave birth to this blog post, one thing I did credit the New Zealand government with was maintaining (and even slightly increasing aid levels).

I thought this to be the case as vote ODA figures from New Zealand Treasury show aid creeping up. Figures I linked to in this blog post.

This morning I stumbled across the World Bank’s excellent Aid Flows website, where I was surprised to find their numbers (select New Zealand from the donors list) showed New Zealand ODA (numbers in USD) going down in 2009. I doubled checked this with OECD DAC data (the original source of the WB numbers — here and here) and sure enough the WB’s numbers seem to be right (slight discrepancy with DAC figures but immaterial).

I can think of a few reasons for the discrepancy:

1. Exchange rate fluctuations meaning that the same number of NZD = less USD. However, this is almost certainly not the case as ODA as a percentage of GNI also fell, and any exchange movements ought to have been in our favour.

2. The Treasury numbers where estimates for the 09/10 FYr. Perhaps ODA spending never made it to the estimated levels? I think this very unlikely as Treasury estimates where probably produced close to the end of the FYr and therefore unlikely to be far out.

3. The OECD DAC data (and from it the WB Data) is reported on a calendar year basis. The info from Treasury is on a financial year basis, which means that the New Zealand aid programme may have spent relatively little in the second half of the 09 calendar year, making up for this underspend in the first half of the 2010 calendar year. This seems possible, particularly when you consider that Minister McCully didn’t actually sign off the aid programme’s allocations (which dictate, at a a high level in what areas aid should be spent) until very close to the end of 2009 — something that, as you might imagine, makes it somewhat hard for aid programme staff to do their work.

4. A portion of vote ODA for the 2009 FYr consisted of money that didn’t meet OECD DAC criteria and so wasn’t eligible to be reported to the DAC as ODA. This proportion of non-DACable ODA would have had to have been greater in 09 than 08. Seems possible, but I don’t know what would be involved here.

[Update: 5. Another possible reason — and quite likely as some other OECD DAC stats I was looking at also seem wrong — is that there’s simply something wrong with their database.]

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