Mr. M. Saifur Rahman 
Minister of Finance and Planning 

International Conference on Financing for Development 

Monterrey, Mexico 
21 March 2002

Your Excellency Mr. President, heads of government and states, 
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman

It is a delight to be in this historic city on this historic occasion. I bring to all of you, here at Monterrey, the warmest greetings of our Prime Minister, Begum Khalida Zia.  We thank to the Government & People of Mexico for the Conference arrangements, and for the warmth of your hospitality and the hospitality of the people of Monterrey. We are confident that your leadership will guide our work to successful fruition.

We meet against the matrix of a rapidly changing world. Wealth and resources are ever expanding. So, sadly, is the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Mr. President, Should this gap persist? No. This must be closed by improving the lot of the poor, Financing for development must involve a firm global commitment to achieve that goal.

While the international community must provide the appropriate environment, development must remain a core national responsibility. The process must be domestically engineered owned and driven. In thisrespect we in Bangladesh have a good story to tell. It would be my privilege to share our experience with you.

We believe that development is only possible against the backdrop of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. Good governance, fiscal responsibility and social accountability are the key elements. Growth must be pro-poor, pro-women, and environmentally sustainable. All key stakeholders must participate in the effort. The market must be free, though the government must discharge its electoral mandate to protect the poor and vulnerable from the disorderly free market situation. Corruption must be eliminated from the society at all levels, and this must be done in coordination with development partners. We believe in private sector-led growth. Our Prime Minister is intent on taking government out of business, and leaving business to the private sector. At all times, we believe the point of reference must be the individual human being and not soulless economic data and dry statistics.

Operating within those philosophical parameters, Bangladesh has made great strides. Within our region we take a modicum of pride in our impressive social indicators. We have tapped our cultural heritage and intellectual capacities to produce concepts such as micro-credit and used them effectively as instruments of social change. We have emphasized education, particularly education for woman and children and integrated health and family planning program. Through an appropriate macroeconomic policy-mix we have addressed with success the problem of poverty alleviation. We have empowered women by expanding their access to credit and employment. From a food deficit country not so long ago, we have achieved miracles in agriculture, and now produce enough to feed our 130 million people. We have just concluded the Bangladesh Development Forum meeting with the Bretton Woods Institutions and other donors in Paris in which they commended the increase in school enrolment, reduction in fertility and mortality rates, improvement in disaster-management, and the emergence of an impressive NGO system.

Despite our best efforts, we acknowledge that weaknesses persist. We intend to address them head-on by deepening our reform agenda and intensifying trade tariff and institutional reform. An effective combination of our home grown initiatives, and outside help, have rendered us what we are today, a vibrant, liberal, and progressive polity, which is also one of the largest democracies in the world.

A US Government document entitled "Successful Development: models for the 21st Century" says, and I quote: "the lesson in Bangladesh is that ODA- when applied in conjunction with a country's serious efforts to resolve its own development challenges can yield dramatic results".
Mr. President, I am not, like Oliver Twist, asking for more. What I am asking for is trade and market access for our exports, that keep our women, farmers and workers employed and empowered. What I an asking for is an international support structure that rewards performance and genuine reforms. What I am asking for is coherence among international agencies for better coordination, but they should not use this as an opportunity to jointly impose mutually reinforcing stiffer conditionalities. I am asking for investments that entail genuine transfer of knowledge and resources, and are not predatory. I am asking all this not just for my country but for all others in comparable circumstances.
It is our hope that the message from Monterrey would galvanize humankind to a high level of cooperation. It is on its anvil that we can forge a stabler, better and more secure world, a world free from poverty in all its dimension. Such a global alliance for development will create an enriched and sustainable civilization. This pledge at Monterrey can be our gift to the world beyond.

I thank you, Mr. President, Ladies and gentleman.

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