The Rt. Hon. Owen S. Arthur, M.P.
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

International Conference on Financing for Development 

Monterrey, Mexico
21 March 2002

Distinguished Heads of States and Governments, Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today to offer a perspective, on behalf of the people of Barbados, on the Development Initiatives embodied in the Monterrey Consensus.

It is our conviction that this conference, at this moment in history, holds the potential to make the decisive difference to the course of man's development.

In recent times, beginning with the Rio Summit on the Environment and Development, and continuing through the Global Conference on Small Island Developing States at Bridgetown, the Cairo Summit on Population, the Copenhagen Summit for Social Development, the Beijing Summit on Women, the Habitat Conference, the Food Summit in Rome, the Earth Summit in New York and culminating in the Millennium Summit, the global Community has more than shown itself capable of stating desirable and achievable goals, and an Agenda for International Development.

Indeed, the goal of rescuing more than a billion souls from abject poverty, and affording them thereafter the prospect and the reality of sustainable livelihoods confers upon the agreed Agenda for International Development an urgency and a meaning with which it would be impossible not to be identified.

However, in a world impatient for progress, and endowed with the means to achieve that progress for all, the mere statement of lofty goals and objectives can no longer suffice.

Financing is to development what a steady supply of oxygen is to human life. As such, a process of development, that can have a real meaning in the lives of the poor, has remained unfulfilled by reason of the extraordinary inability of the international community to support the statement of objectives with the means necessary for their accomplishment.

Incantations without follow through are just another way of killing time. And so it has been in the realm of the global development agenda.

This conference, as conceived, to support the statement of a global development programme with the mobilization of the resources necessary to ensure its realization is therefore a historic necessity.

It can, as never before, reconcile the ends and the means of global development and give to mankind the first realistic chance to achieve humane and civilized development.

In such a context, it would be impossible to fault the Monterrey Consensus for recognizing and prescribing that, as regards financing for development, there have to be more concerted efforts to make fair trade become more of an engine for development; to vigorously resolve the debt problem of developing countries, to boost aid and to make it more effective, and for more appropriate domestic policy responses by all countries to the common challenge of sustaining equitable development.

It has however to be said that the precise reason why a conference such as this is necessary is because the international financial system, as presently structured, and the institutions for global economic governance predispose the global economy to recurring financial crises accompanied by persistent poverty.

Many of the essential issues at the heart of development financing have to do with the quality of global economic and financial governance. For, there has been the extension of the global reach of financial transactions and markets without a corresponding empowerment of global institutions to make such transactions work for stable and equitable global development.

In a word, the challenges of civilized globalization cannot be adequately handled by an international financial system designed for the world of 50 years ago.

And we will continue to flounder in meeting the goals of global development, if the reform of that system, as has been the case of late, is to reinforce its initial unrepresentative character without equipping it to prevent and resolve financial crises, provide adequate international liquidity, and mobilize financing of a mix and on terms required for genuine global development.

Radical institutional changes often appear impossible, until after they happen, at which point they seem predestined.

This Monterrey Conference has afforded the global community the opportunity akin to that of Bretton Woods to conceive a new international financial system to serve for a generation.

It is Barbados' view that the Consensus of Monterrey has not gone far enough in conceiving a new system for financial governance to redress the imbalances of the old.

As such proposals have emerged that must not be allowed to go away - the creation of a rules based World Financial Authority to better supervise today's more complex global financial and capital markets than the Bretton Woods Institutions can; an International Tax Organization to oversee global cooperation in cross border tax matters; new ways of raising global revenue to finance global public goods and to eradicate poverty.

It is in the belief that the Consensus of Monterrey reflects a work in progress, a beginning rather than an end, that the Government of Barbados is greatly pleased to be associated with its purposes, and thanks the Government of Mexico for affording us the opportunity, amidst such splendid hospitality, to be part of this historic occasion.

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