Australia ranks in bottom 10 for transparency in aid spending: Global list

Transparency around Australia’s international aid spending has plummeted, with independent global watchdog Publish What You Fund ranking the country 41st on a list of 50 donor countries and organisations, just ahead of countries like Saudi Arabia, China and Turkey.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) – the division responsible for allocating money earmarked for fighting poverty and promoting prosperity around the world – is now at the bottom of the “equitable” category. “, just before being called “poor”.

The department ranked 34th out of 47 organizations in the previous report and 23rd out of 45 in 2018.

The index ranks organizations and countries against 35 indicators in six categories: organizational planning, finance, project attributes, development data and performance. Australia scored lowest in the financial component, essential for tracking exactly how and where the aid budget is spent.

“Among organizational planning and commitments indicators, DFAT performed poorly and below average for its group,” the report wrote. “DFAT also performed significantly below average on the Finances and Budgets Index 2020. DFAT has begun to publish goal data, but only for about 9% of its activities.

According to development sector activists, having access to an open and honest aid budget is absolutely vital.

“Global foreign aid transparency is important because as nations strive to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, this metric will serve as the foundation for aid effectiveness and accountability,” says The Borgen Project. , a non-profit anti-poverty organization. “Aid transparency is equally important for donor and recipient governments as well as civil society.

Foreign policy expert Alexandre Dayant of the Lowy Institute think tank agrees.

“Without clear and open communication, donors run the risk of crowding out and duplicating efforts,” says Dayant. nations that have limited capacity to deal with potentially hundreds of uncoordinated donor agencies.

Australia’s Labor government – elected in May after nearly a decade of Conservative rule – has long promised to undo successive precious cuts to the country’s foreign aid budget. When he was elected, the foreign aid budget was at its lowest level in history, at just 0.19% of gross national income.

The rate is considered one of the lowest among all developed countries.

The party has pledged to increase the percentage of gross national income aid each year, with the first pledge to come in the form of a $525 million increase in the allocation for Australia’s Pacific neighbors over the course of of the next four years.

“The new funding will support Australian bilateral and regional aid and development projects in Pacific countries and Timor-Leste. It will be used both to expand existing projects and to develop new ones,” the party says. Labor on its website. “Pacific Aid projects will support economic growth, health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene needs, climate change adaptation and resilience, gender equality and support for people with disabilities .

To Publish What You Fund, any future changes to the aid budget must be accompanied by the publication of organizational documents and audits, regular data updates, line-item budget reports, and before-and-after evaluations and results. impact.