H.E. Mr. Hubert Alexander Ingraham, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
26 September 2008
© UN Photo
Click for caption and to enlarge
HUBERT ALEXANDER INGRAHAM, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Bahamas, said efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals must be carried out in tandem with steps to achieve full employment and decent work for all. The Bahamas had achieved many of the targets and indicators of the Goals, and over a two-year period, assistance to the poor and low-income families in the country was being increased by 45 per cent. At the same time, new and emerging problems, such as the current food, energy and financial crises, continued to slow global development, and threatened to erode gains made over the past 10 years towards ending poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.
The increasing cost of energy was impacting people’s travel plans, and had a direct negative impact on the tourism industry, the country’s primary industry. In addition, climate change was another challenge for the Bahamas as a small island developing State with about 80 per cent of its landmass within 1.5 meters of sea level. He called for urgent action on climate change, which was also contributing to the increasing number and fury of hurricanes passing through the Caribbean. Those tropical storms had a devastating impact on many countries in their subregion, including Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands and the most southerly island in the Bahamas, Inagua. He said the Bahamas stood by its commitment to preserve its marine and terrestrial environments, and to meet the targets created by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity for 2010 and 2012. The country expected to exceed its commitment to conserve at least 20 per cent of the near-shore marine resources across the Bahamas by 2020.
Turning to economic issues, he said there was a need for permanent representation of developing countries, particularly small developing countries, in international economic, trade and financial institutions, including the Breton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization, as well as bodies like the Financial Stability Forum and the Basle Committee. Believing that international tax matters should be discussed in an open, transparent and inclusive form, the Bahamas called for the convening of a major international conference to review the international financial and monetary architecture and global economic governance structures.
The Bahamas reaffirmed its support for the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform, with a view to expanding its membership in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, as well as improving its working methods. On the issue of drugs, he said the 2008 World Drug Report indicated that the supply of illicit drugs was increasing, a fact with serious consequences for the subregion.
The Bahamas and other members of CARICOM were neither significant producers nor supplies of narcotics, or significant manufacturers or suppliers of small arms and light weapons. He reiterated the call made last July by the CARICOM States for the illicit brokering in small arms and light weapons to be addressed in a holistic, transparent and legally binding manner, with renewed commitments for effective and enhanced safeguards.