Who profits from our foreign aid? Today, continuing Crikey's special coverage, we carve up the cake to show who's getting what from Australia's foreign aid budget. The biggest benefactors are not who you think. Rather than the big NGOs, who actually get very little government aid money to deliver programs, the little-known Coffey International tops the list (we'll delve into them next week). Here are the key findings:
  • Corporations get the majority of Australian aid contracts and nearly 85% of the value of those contracts
  • Six corporations get between them more than half of the value of the contracts
  • The corporate share is even larger when you consider the university sector also is nearly always under pressure to include corporate-style profit margins as they seek to compensate for government funding cuts
  • Coffey International gets the largest share and in one year got 37% of the value of the contracts
  • A dramatic shift from NGOs to corporates took place over the Howard years -- before 2003, NGOs got a larger share of contracts
  • The aid budget has increased under the Rudd government but for the most part it has been business as usual
  • The proportion of aid contracts going to corporates has slightly declined under Labor with most of the shift going to individuals rather than aid NGOs
  • Many individuals are also trading as small businesses but if the business only appeared to have one or two individuals, these contracts have been included with individuals
  • Contracts often last for several years so some trends across the years may simply reflect that the companies have plenty of work on the books.

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