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Govt Not Saying If Promised NGO Funding Boost Set To Be Chopped

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Ian Llewellyn of NZPA

Wellington, Feb 12 NZPA - The Government is not saying if plans to increase funding to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are going to be chopped in the current financial environment.

Last February, former prime minister Helen Clark outlined a four-year $446 million boost for NGOs dealing with troubled families and other social services.

The money, which amounted to $37.5 million in the current financial year, rising to $193 million a year by 2011/2012, would enable full funding of the services.

Today in Parliament, Finance Minister Bill English would only say the Social Development Ministry was in talks with NGOs about funding.

Mr English did not directly answer when asked if the Government was going to "freeze or delay" the move to boosting the funding of NGOs over the next three years.

"The department is in discussion with NGOs over a range of issues, particularly the problem arising for many NGOs where private sources of funding are drying up," Mr English said

Labour's social development spokeswoman Annette King said National had talked about private-public partnerships and appeared to be squeezing funding to NGOs that provided high value services for low costs.

Mr English said once again did not reply directly.

"The government has sent a clear signal taxpayer money should be spent effectively and spending will be restrained over coming years," he said.

"We are working in constructive partnership with a whole range of groups who will be affected by the change in the external environment and they are all being much more constructive than the opposition."

Mr English said the previous government had wasted money on programmes such as one taking children out of school to pet dogs for six hours a week.

Those involved were as "mystified" about what the programme was meant to achieve as the minister was, and such spending would not continue.

During question time Mr English and other ministers said many promises and announcements made by Labour last year had not been allocated funding by the Government.

Former Labour ministers denied this.

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