3 April 2019: Budget papers show the Australian government has decided to significantly cut down its aid budget for Nepal in the financial year 2019/20.
Australia’s estimated aid budget for Nepal in the current financial year stands at $15.6 million which will now be slashed to mere $9.1 million in 2019/20 – a reduction of 42 percent.
Pakistan the worst hit with bilateral program more than halved. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal also cut.
— Jonathan Pryke (@jonathan_pryke) April 2, 2019
Nepal is not the only South Asian country to suffer. Budget for Pakistan has almost been halved – from $39.4 million $19 million. Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka have remained unaffected by the government’s squeeze on Australia’s foreign aid budget.
Experts in aid and international development have already slammed the government for prioritising the Pacific region at the expense of South and Southeast Asia.
Overall aid budget itself has fallen from $4.16 billion in the current financial year to $4.04 billion in 2019/20 in line with prime minister Scott Morrison’s posturing on Tuesday.
The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) CEO Marc Purcell told ABC that the Government was “opening up a huge black hole” with this “short-sighted” budget. “Alarmingly, the Government is halving assistance to Pakistan and Nepal, two of the poorest countries in Asia. The Government’s own white paper on foreign policy is undermined by these cuts,” he was quoted as saying.