Questioned the breakdown of the total aid budget for the Palestinian Territories in the 2020-21 financial year and whether a fourth phase of the AMENCA program will be considered.
According to the information from DFAT, the total budget for aid to the Palestinian territories in the financial year 2020-21 was reduced to $29.8 million and, as far as I know, that includes $10 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. Could you give a preliminary detailed breakdown of disbursement by contract for the remaining $19.8 million?
Whole interaction with Mr Benjamin Hayes (Acting First Assistant Secretary, Middle East and Africa Division, DFAT) during Senate Estimates (Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio).
Senator FARUQI: Good afternoon. According to the information from DFAT, the total budget for aid to the Palestinian territories in the financial year 2020-21 was reduced to $29.8 million and, as far as I know, that includes $10 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. Could you give a preliminary detailed breakdown of disbursement by contract for the remaining $19.8 million?
Mr Hayes : Could I clarify, you are after a breakdown of our Palestinian territories development program for this financial year?
Senator FARUQI: Last financial year.
Mr Hayes : 2019-20?
Senator FARUQI: 2020-21.
Mr Hayes : The current financial year.
Senator FARUQI: We’re almost finished, but, yes.
Mr Hayes : We break the program up into what we consider the bilateral part of the program. That is the $17.1 million that you referred to. The breakdown of that is, as announced by the minister earlier this year—
Senator FARUQI: Isn’t the $17.1 million for 2021-22 for the Middle East?
Mr Hayes : It is the same next year in the forecast.
Senator FARUQI: So it is not $19.8 million?
Mr Hayes : No.
Senator FARUQI: I thought it was reduced to $29.8 million and $10 million of that was the UN Relief And Works Agency. I was wanting the breakdown of the rest of it, which is $19.8 million.
Mr Hayes : Yes. Indeed. That’s what I was going to go through. So $29.8 is, indeed, correct. The breakdown of that is $10 million to UNRWA, which you referred to. Then there’s $17.1 for our bilateral program and then there is an estimate of $2.7 million for our global flows, but that won’t be clear until later in the calendar year. Global flows, of course, refers to core funding to multilateral partners and others that has a benefit within the territory.
Within the $17.1 million, the break down is: $1 million to the World Health Organization; $8.9 million to the ICRC, though the minister has announced this morning that we will be providing an additional $3 million to ICRC as a result of the recent conflict and humanitarian need in Gaza; $2 million to the United Nations office for project services, and the minister has announced a further $2 million this morning; $3.6 million for AMENCO 3, the Australia Middle-East NGO Cooperation Agreement; and $1.6 million for the Australia Awards Scholarships program. With the budget estimate published figures that you referred to, which comes to $29.8, as a result of the minister’s announcement this morning, the total estimate will be $34.8 million.
Senator FARUQI: What about the 2021-22 financial year? That’s $17.1 million as well, you said. Obviously that doesn’t include the UN relief funding.
Mr Hayes : That’s right. For next financial year, the budget allocation for the bilateral program component is $17.1 million, plus up to $10 million for UNRWA, plus an estimate for global flows of $2.7 million. I can’t give you the breakdown of the $17.1 million for next financial year, because those allocations are yet to be determined.
Senator FARUQI: You said the AMENCA program had been extended and there was $3 million for it?
Mr Hayes : No.
Senator FARUQI: That was from last year’s?
Mr Hayes : Yes.
Senator FARUQI: So there is as yet no announcement of an AMENCA 2 program?
Mr Hayes : The AMENCA 3 program is due to finish its five-year term this calendar year.
Senator FARUQI: Sorry, AMENCA 3.
Mr Hayes : It was due to finish on 30 June, but we extended it by, I think, three months, to allow the completion of some work packages that had been impacted by COVID.
Senator FARUQI: And that’s not going to be extended beyond that, or is there still a possibility that it might be, given the deep impacts of COVID-19 and the conflict?
Mr Hayes : As I mentioned, the allocations for next financial year are yet to be determined, but, at this stage, it’s not our intention to seek a fourth phase of AMENCA.
Senator FARUQI: Is DFAT consulting with accredited Australian NGO agencies implementing projects in Gaza about their emergency needs?
Mr Hayes : Yes.
Senator FARUQI: Which agencies are you consulting with?
Mr Hayes : If I can take that on notice, we can certainly get you that information. We have a representative office in Ramallah, and a fairly significant part of their role is that kind of engagement.