Australia’s aid to Indonesia will be reduced by 40%, the budget has revealed, but the government says it is not because of the executions last month of two Australian drug smugglers.
A $1bn reduction in the aid budget for the next financial year was announced in the previous mid-year economic and fiscal outlook and the specific details of the cut in the budget show big reductions in foreign aid for Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Burma.
Aid to Africa and the Middle East will be reduced by almost 75% from $143m to $52.9m.
Indonesia’s official development assistance from Australia has been reduced from $542.5m to $323m and the total aid for east Asia has been reduced from $1.08bn to $688.6m. More than 90% of Australia’s aid will go to the Indo-Pacific region.
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Papua New Guinea will experience a slight drop in aid, from $502.1m to $477.3m, while other countries in the Pacific such as the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa and Fiji will receive the same amount in the 2015-16 financial year as they did in the last, meaning no drop in their aid in nominal terms.
In east Asia, Vietnam’s aid will drop from $97.4m to $58.4m while the Philippines will be hit by a drop from $111.7m to $67m. Cambodia, with whom Australia has a refugee resettlement program, was the only country in east Asia that won’t have aid cut, instead keeping its $52.4m.
Australia has withdrawn its ambassador to Indonesia for “consultations” after the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran for drug smuggling, but Joe Hockey said the reduction in aid was not retribution.
“There wasn’t any specific targeting of any country at all, it was all done with a formula,” the treasurer said.
Aid to sub-Saharan Africa will be reduced from $106m to $31.8m while aid to the Palestinian territories will be reduced from $34.2m to $20.5m. Aid to Afghanistan will be reduced from $130.9m to $78.5m.
A $50m gender equality fund to “strengthen the importance and priority of empowering women” was announced in the budget and an emergency fund of $120m will be retained by Australia to deal with global emergencies.
There will be a 5% reduction, equivalent to $6m, in money for non-government organisations working overseas.