CANBERRA— Australian federal government on Tuesday announced to boost foreign aids by 520 million U.S. dollars next year, in a bid to tackle extremism and reduce the numbers of refugees fleeing violence and poverty in the world trouble spots.
Treasurer Wayne Swan on Tuesday night revealed the 2011/12 federal budget, which mainly focuses to return budget to surplus in 2012/13.
Despite calls to cut foreign aid spending to help push the federal budget back into surplus, Swan on Tuesday night announced that the government will in fact increase the foreign aids by 520 million U.S. dollars, to 5.32 billion U.S. dollars in 2011/12.
According to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, the boost means foreign aid will now account for 0.35 percent of gross national income (GNI).
"Most of this new assistance will go to our region, particularly Indonesia and the Pacific," Rudd told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday night.
"Two-thirds of the world's poor live in Australia's region. Of our 20 nearest neighbors, 18 are developing countries."
Next year, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea will receive about 549 million U.S. dollars each, while about 439 million U.S. dollars will go to Africa and the Middle East.
Rudd said the government remains committed to boosting aid spending to 0.5 percent of GNI by 2015/16. Meanwhile, Oxfam Australia executive director Andrew Hewett applauded the increase, saying in a statement that the money will save lives and help some of the world's poorest men, women and children.
ActionAid Australia chief executive Archie Law also welcomed the increase. However, he noted that Australia is still lagging behind other countries, as the nation is still ranked 14th of 23 donor nations. (Xinhua)