Budget cuts to the Ministry for Pacific Island Affairs will only increase pressure on a community already suffering high unemployment, low incomes and growing inequality says Labour’s spokesperson for Pacific Island Affairs Su’a William Sio.
“In this Year’s Budget National slashed $861,000 from the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs – a significant cut for a small agency tasked with lifting outcomes for our fastest growing population.
“It comes at a time when Pacific underachievement is at its most severe. A report from the Salvation Army, published today, says Pacific people have been hardest hit by the recession and without support risk being left behind when the economy picks up.
“Too many Pacific people are unskilled, unsupported and not reaching their potential.
“Pacific Island Affairs Minister, Hekia Parata, has failed to stem growing inequity and Pacific people are losing out as a result.
“In the lead up to the Budget, National trumpeted additional places for Maori and Pacific students in trades schools. What it delivered was a $200,000 cut to skills training and employment programmes for youth in Auckland.
“Hekia Parata’s $330,000 cut to community and stakeholder engagement activities will also undermine efforts in areas like education and ECE participation where significant gains have been made.
“Cancelling $253,000 in funding for business and skills training is short-sighted considering the Pacific community desperately needs to up-skill.
“Overall, the Minister’s cuts weaken the Ministry’s ability to perform basic functions such as ensuring Pacific peoples’ earnings are on a par with other New Zealanders. This specific measure has been highlighted in the Salvation Army Report which reveals Pacific incomes have only increased by $2 in the last five years compared to $54 dollars for New Zealanders at large.
“National has denied suggestions that plans are afoot to disestablish or merge the Ministry but the nine percent funding cut in Budget 2013 suggests otherwise – the Ministry is being set up to fail,” Su’a William Sio said