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Australia Increases Aid To the Philippines
« on: June 17, 2007, 11:49:00 PM »
Komfie Manalo - AHN News Writer

Acknowledging that the Philippine economy lags behind its Asian neighbors, the Australian government had decided to increase its aid to Manila. They are doing so because the Philippine people continue to face serious challenges.

In a statement posted on its Web site, the Australian Embassy in Manila gave specific reasons for increasing aid.

"Thirty percent of the Philippine population live below the poverty line and long-standing conflicts take a toll on people's lives and opportunities," the statement said.

"During the past three years, economic growth in the Philippines has risen to over 5 percent a year. While this is very promising, Australia recognizes the need to work with the Philippines to build on this growth and cement long-term improvements in governance and growth, which are critical to reducing poverty," it added.

Australian officials said that many problems hamper full development of the Philippine economy. Those problems include governance, corruption, internal conflict, Muslim and communist insurgencies, terrorism and limited foreign investments.

The statement said Canberra is increasing its aid to the Philippines by $84 million to address problems of poverty, to enhance economic opportunities, to check corruption and to maintain national stability.

"The Philippines is an important regional partner with significant development challenges - poverty rates are high, economic growth has lagged behind others in East Asia," the embassy said.

"We will support investment in infrastructure - especially much-needed road improvements - and help the Philippines build a better education system for all children, with a particular focus on improving access to schools and better teaching in Mindanao and the Visayas. We will also improve health services for women and children in Mindanao," Australian officials said.

The embassy statement also noted the increased aid will allow it to provide assistance to counter corruption, in recognition of the importance of building democratic institutions.

"Our two countries will work together through the new Australia-Philippines Development Assistance Strategy (2007-11) to improve development outcomes in the Philippines," the embassy said. (allheadlinenews.com)

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