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9 Memorandum from Burton to Mills

Canberra, 12 December 1949

Technical Assistance for Economic Development

I should like to draw your attention to some of the implications of an Australian contribution, in terms of experts to advise governments on specific problems, to the United Nations expanded programme of technical assistance for economic development. I shall be writing to you later on the question of training personnel in Australia under the programme.

If Australia contributes it will presumably be in the form of supplies, training facilities and the provision of expert personnel to underdeveloped areas. Using the United Nations scale of contributions as a guide, we have formed the opinion that �A200,000 might be a reasonable upper limit to an Australian contribution assuming that the total programme in the first year amounts to $20 million.

We should like your assistance in estimating Australia's capacity to supply expert personnel. Perhaps as a rough guide we might assume that approximately �90,000 of the �200,000 suggested as a suitable contribution would be in the form of services of experts, and their rate of payment would be similar to the United Nations scale, then such an amount would provide for about 30 experts for a period of twelve months' engagement. However, Australian salaries are generally lower than United Nations, so that the figure is more likely to be approximately 40 per year. If we allow for the possibility that the term of engagement might in some cases be less than twelve months, the actual number of persons to be recruited in any one year would be even greater.

We should welcome any views which the Office may have as to the likely availability in Australia of technical experts. It is our impression that it would be impossible for Australia to supply technical personnel at this rate. The attached list of the fields in which experts may be required will perhaps be useful in this connection.

Your opinion is sought primarily to enable us to judge whether it would in fact be practicable to spend �200,000 in Australia as a contribution to the technical assistance programme. A secondary question which might be taken up subsequently, is the method of securing the services of experts and other administrative problems connected therewith. You may have some views on this question also, and if so, I would be pleased to have them.



The attached list of fields in which specific advice may be required is based on an actual survey of Haiti conducted by the United Nations in collaboration with certain specialised agencies. It was thought preferable to use this as a basis rather than the 'Grey Book' since the latter is hypothetical, whereas the Haitian survey contains concrete proposals for the economic development of a country whose problems are fairly typical.

It is apparent that the type of people required will be those having not only academic qualifications but a thorough knowledge of particular problems. The technicians in agriculture will have to be drawn largely from the States and the agricultural colleges. So too will educational and health experts have to be drawn from outside the Commonwealth Government. The States and private enterprise would be the useful sources of industrial experts required for the development of specific industries, while the Commonwealth might provide that advice relating to the general problems of industrial development, such as taxation and tariff policy.

It would seem that the greatest contribution of the Commonwealth Government will be in the field of public finance. The Haitian survey devoted considerable attention to improvements in the credit organisation and the financial and institutional devices existing there. This country has had some experience in the development and administration of such techniques, and I should think we could make quite a valuable contribution in this direction.

A. Agriculture.

(a) Land utilisation

(b) Establishment and improvement of agricultural colleges

(c) Forestry

(d) Irrigation

(e) Livestock and pasture management

(f) River control

(g) Fisheries

(h) Marketing

(i) Rural credit.

B. Industrial Development.

(a) Domestic industrial processing of agricultural products, e.g. sugar, coffee, rubber.

(b) Mineral resource surveys

(c) Development of industries in which country has comparative advantage, e.g.

(i) Cement manufacturing technique

(ii) Glass manufacturing technique

(d) Hydro electric surveys

(e) Small scale engineering, repair and handicraft activities.

(f) Collection and publication of industrial and related foreign trade statistics.

(g) Examination of legislation and legal practices

(h) Establishment of research and information centres

(i) Examination of structure and incidence of customs tariffs.

C. Public Education.

(a) Reduction of illiteracy

(b) Production of basic readers

(c) Initiation of industrial training and apprenticeship programme.

D. Public Health.

(a) Survey of the incidence of malaria in rural areas.

(b) Surveys of infection rates of particular diseases.

E. Money, Credit and Public Finance.

(a) Establishment or expansion of statistical services to provide adequate statistics and analyses of monetary and related matters, and furnish expert technical advice and information.

(b) Re-organisation of fiscal system through budget taxation, customs and legal reforms.

[NAA: A1838, 716/1/1 part 5]

1 R.C. Mills, Director, Commonwealth Office of Education

Last Updated: 10 January 2017
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