HandshakeCorporate involvement in aid

A major concern of Australia’s aid program is that it favours commercial interests in aid delivery.  The commercialisation of aid often results in “Boomerang Aid”- aid which ends up funding private Australian companies, consultants, advisors and goods and services, bypassing those who need it the most and returning to Australia (See also: “Technical Assistance”). Considering the diverse portfolios of the largest aid contract recipients, it becomes most fitting to talk about aid delivery in terms of an ‘aid industry’. A small number of large Australian companies manage projects across health, education, governance and capacity building, employing short-term private consultants to service their contracts.


Criticisms of Commercialisation:

Commercialisation is criticised because it is an expensive way to deliver aid. There are also concerns regarding the lack of transparency, public oversight and accountability in commercialised aid provision, because contracts are often bound by commercial-in-confidence agreements.

A 2009 report by the Australian National Audit Office notes that 20 of Australia’s largest managing contractors “were together responsible for delivering 70% of Australia’s bilateral aid program expenditure.”[1]

  • In 2006, 45% of the aid program or $1.35 billion was available for tender to private companies.
  • GRM International Pty Ltd is an Australian company, until recently owned by the Packer family, which received more than $1 billion in AusAID contracts between 2001 and 2010.[2]  


Further information:

Australian Govt Aid – Australian Aid Priorities – Tied Aid

Australian Govt Aid – Australian Aid Priorities – Technical Assistance

AID/WATCH Policy Asks



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Last updated 12 November 2010


[1] Australian National Audit Office (2009) AusAID’s Management of the Expanding Australian Aid Program, ANAO Audit Report No. 15 2009-10, p.87.

[2] “Who profits from our foreign aid, the untold story of GRM International” http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/07/12/who-profits-from-our-foreign-aid-the-untold-story-of-grm-international/