Australia boosts aid to RP under new dev’t strategy

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Tony Hely and National Economic and
Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Romulo Neri led the launching here
last week of the new Australia-Philippines Development Assistance Strategy
for 2007-2011.

The new strategy was officially launched earlier in Canberra, Australia
jointly by Australian Prime Minister John Howard and President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo during the latter’s recent state visit there.

“The Australia-Philippines Development Assistance Strategy 2007-2011 is a
concrete manifestation and affirmation of Australia’s commitment to assist
the Philippines in meeting its development goals, with focus on reducing
poverty, enhancing economic growth and maintaining national stability,”
Ambassador Hely said.

Ambassador Hely stressed that Australia’s aid program in the Philippines is
significantly expanding in scale, in line with the Australian Government’s
commitment to double the size of its global aid program by 2010.

“Already the new Philippine program starts with a significant step up in
funding in its first year of operation to over Aus$ 100 million (Php 4
billion) in 2007-2008, an increase of 45% from the 2006-2007’s aid budget.
And based on needs and performance, further annual increases are expected
over the program’s next five years,” Ambassador Hely added.

The new program strategy puts particular emphasis on the promotion of
sustainable economic growth and helping to improve Philippines
competitiveness and creating an enabling environment to attract investment.

The strategy will also focus on increasing access to quality basic education
and on enhancing national stability and human security, including support
for peace in Mindanao and strengthening preparedness and protection against
disasters.

According to Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) chair Virgilio
Leyretana, the new development assistance strategy augurs well for Mindanao,
where a sizable chunk of Australia’s country program aid is currently being
directed to, through the Australian Agency for International Development
(AusAID).  

The Australia-Philippines Development Assistance Strategy 2007-2011 strongly
reinforces more than 50 years of Australian development assistance in the
Philippines. Australia is one of the top three bilateral grant aid donors to
the Philippines, with aid of some Aus$570 million provided over the past
decade alone.

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