Monday 16 December 2019
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The News - 13 days ago

Australia to end bilateral aid to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Morrison government will cease all bilateral aid to Pakistan, which includes support for successful programmes helping poor women and girls, as funds for development assistance are diverted to the Pacific.According to the daily The Sydney Morning Herald Australia has a 70-year history of providing aid to Pakistan but will end all government to government development assistance in 2020-21, the latest aid programme performance report on Pakistan reveals. Funding in Australia s overall aid programme has been redirected to support new initiatives in our immediate Pacific region, it said. This has reduced bilateral aid to Pakistan from $39.2 million in 2018-19 to $19 million in 2019-20 and funding for bilateral programmes will fully cease in 2020-21. A key objective of Australia s aid to Pakistan has been assisting women and girls with a focus on education, increased access to quality reproductive health and gender-based anti-violence services.Pakistan is one of the poorest countries in Asia and was placed 150 out of 178 nations on the most recent United Nations Human Development Index, which ranks countries according to health, education and income. Australia s overall foreign aid budget has been slashed by 27 per cent in real terms since 2013 and now makes up just 0.82 per cent of federal government spending, an all-time low.Despite those cuts, the Morrison government has pledged an Australian step-up in the Pacific and aid spending in that region was lifted to a record $1.4 billion in 2019-20. The policy shift came amid fears of growing Chinese influence on Australia s doorstep.

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