Australia will outsource the delivery of $35 million foreign aid program to Fiji. After being battered by cyclone Winston, Fiji will be getting more aid from Australia.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop played down all criticism against the move. According to media reports, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has invited tenders to set up a one stop facility to deliver all aid relating to health, governance, scholarships, education and private sector programs.
The federal government wants the single service provider to be ready by mid-2016. The same facility will also look after the aid programs in Tuvalu. Reacting to the criticism, Bishop said, “Australia always works with partners on the ground, there is nothing unusual in that at all,” reports News Corp.
“We work with other organisations so in the case of Fiji we would have a contract to deliver certain services with organisations whose role it is to deliver services in countries in our region so that’s standard,” she said.
Critics had cited the outsourcing tender as an indication that there are many problems in the aftermath of the merger of DFAT and AusAID. A survey by the Development Policy Centre had noted that many respondents believed the merger having affected the efficacy of aid staff and eroded their expertise and skills.
Meanwhile, Bishop also announced an additional $10 million for Fiji. The extra funding will be to provide food, clean water, hygiene and shelter to more communities.
“This new package of support brings the Australian Government’s assistance for Fiji to $15 million,” Bishop said.
Bishop said Australia will be working closely with the Fijian authorities in repairing schools, medical clinics and basic infrastructure. More medical personnel will be moved to Fiji. The HMAS Canberra will carry Australian defence personnel to Fiji and their total number will become 1,000, reports The ABC.