(On behalf of the Least Developed Countries)
His Excellency Mr. Bruno Amoussou
It is a great pleasure and an honour for me to speak on behalf of the Least Developed Countries in this distinguished forum of the International Conference on Financing for Development.
I wish to associate myself with the congratulations and appreciation conveyed to you, Mr. President. The international community has expressed its confidence in you through its recognition of your ability. That recognition is also a tribute to your country. I also wish to thank the Mexican Government for its hospitality and the facilities they have offered us and for the successful organization of this Conference. The Benin delegation, through my voice, ensures its cooperation for and support to you during these proceedings.
I wish to express my great satisfaction and gratitude, on behalf of the Republic of Benin and the Least Developed Countries, to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, for all his efforts and the critical momentum he has given to our Organization, so that the issue of financing for development would be the focal point of the international community at this time.
I wish to recall that due to the need for a new partnership, the international community committed itself at the Millennium Summit to supporting the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries and has asked development partners to act to provide debt relief, or even debt cancellation, to increase official development assistance, and to open markets to Least Developed Countries.
The Millennium Summit also adopted the relevant recommendation to grant additional resources to least developed countries to help them break out of poverty and marginalization. In this regard, the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries, held in May 2001 in Brussels, laid the foundation for a world partnership that would be strengthened and would create the conditions for sustained economic growth and sustainable development in these countries to put an end to their marginalization, eradicate poverty and enable them to become integrated and to benefit from the global economy.
To do this, this Conference developed an Action Plan for the Least Developed Countries for the decade 2001 to 2010, which calls for a partnership based on a covenant of commitments. We, the Least Developed Countries, have applied measures and specific policies in order to offer better opportunities for our people, particularly the poorest, to eliminate the structural deficits of our economies by implementing results-oriented macroeconomic and social policies.
We are fully committed to implementing the national measures and policies agreed in Brussels. In so doing, we are creating better conditions not only for our people, but also for people everywhere. In fact, reducing or even eliminating poverty in the Least Developed Countries is increasing the purchasing power of millions of human beings, giving new opportunities for international trade and improving the standard of living of people everywhere.
Preventing and resolving conflicts, which are often only the manifestation of discontent with lack of resources and the undeveloped capacity of the Least Developed Countries, is strengthening security at a worldwide level. Preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis or eliminating malaria in least developed countries is improving the state of health of the entire world and developing better means of communication, just as promoting greater human rights for our people and good governance, is eliminating the sources of frustration and strengthening world peace.
Therefore, it is in this spirit that in Brussels we and our partners in development reached a consensus on an Action Plan that contains a mutual commitment in seven areas, including the need to mobilize financial resources for development. We consider this International Conference on Financing for Development the logical and complementary follow-up to the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in the sense that it calls for the real involvement of all international institutions that finance development in educating, mobilizing and transferring adequate financial resources for the implementation of commitments made at the Brussels Conference.
Official development assistance remains a necessary source of financing in order to realize the goals and objectives of the Action Plan for the Least Developed Countries. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully consider its quantitative and qualitative aspects and the means to effectively coordinate them. [GAP IN RECORDING] we have to achieve these objectives.
We would like to remind you of the serious need for significant and real enhancement of the volume of public resources, namely official development assistance. I do not need to emphasize the benefits that would accrue to all stakeholders measured in terms of economic and social results, not only in terms of debt repayment. That is how we will break the cycle of debt accumulation and will avoid having future generations pay for it. It is the time to remind participants that we have the common will for fuller involvement of the least developed countries in decision-making that has to do with their development, be it through coordination or debt-relief measures.
Debt repayment is a heavy burden on our fragile economies. It prevents economic growth and development. It is one of the major causes for the failure of previous programmes of cooperation established to support the development policies that are relevant for our countries. We appreciate, of course, the scope of debt-relief measures adopted in various mechanisms. These measures, although significant, are still insufficient. In fact, our countries need a new injection. In that regard, our conviction is that the prompt and complete cancellation of all bilateral public debts and all multilateral debts for all of the least developed countries would contribute to the eradication of poverty.
In addition to that, actions to finance development must be intensified and include more grants than loans. Therefore, we are launching an appeal to the international community and in particular to the most developed countries, particularly the G-8 countries, to make a significant increase in their contributions to multilateral financial institutions, particularly to the Agency for International Development, the World Bank Group, the African Development Fund and all regional and subregional banks that finance development. I must also point out the critical need to finance programmes in sectors such as health, education, nutrition or other sectors related to human resource development, even though these programmes are not directly generating revenue and therefore do not make a short-term contribution to debt repayment.
While we recognize that our countries are basically dependent on official development assistance, we will continue to work to attract other foreign resource flows stemming from foreign direct investment or revenues from our exports to markets we hope will be fairer. Foreign direct investment in our countries is weak. Measures to attract them are important elements of our national developmental strategies, which at the same time must be supported by financing the basic infrastructure needed to reduce the costs of these investments.
Therefore, our exports should enable us to obtain substantial resources; more than those stemming from official development assistance and private capital flows. That is why we are launching an appeal to the international community; so that the Brussels measures will be implemented without delay; for example, measures to improve preferential access of the least developed countries, duty-free and quota-free, to the markets of developed countries; to implement fully and urgently measures to grant a special and distinct status for the least developed countries and to fast-track membership through the World Trade Organization for the least developed countries that are not yet members.
We support the Doha Ministerial Declaration and the appeal made to developmental partners for them to increase their contribution significantly to the integrated technical framework for trade in order to carry out capacity-building.
The Monterrey Conference should not be considered an isolated conference that is disconnected from past or future conferences, such as the one to be held in Johannesburg. These conclusions should contribute to the effective implementation of the commitments made at the Millennium Summit and those mentioned in the Brussels Action Plan for the least developed countries. It is therefore essential that the follow-up to the Brussels Conference and the Monterrey Conference be well coordinated and that the development of all of the least developed countries, as well as relevant resourcing issues, be considered a result.
I have just spoken as a spokesperson for the Least Developed Countries throughout the world. The duration of my mandate is five years. I am asking participants to act in such a way as reduce the number of our members by the end of my term, at the Brussels Conference, at the Millennium Summit and the Monterrey Conference. We have made relevant statements. We now need to act. I believe that we have the means to do so. If we steel ourselves with the firm will to act in solidarity, we will witness the long-sought new and genuine partnership.
* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.