H.E. Dr. Woldai Futur
Minister of Development Planning and 
Economic Coordination of the State of Eritrea

at the
International Conference on Financing for Development 

Monterrey, Mexico
22 March 2002

Mr. President, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I wish to express that my delegation associates with the statement made by His Excellency Mr. Hugo Chavez Frias, President of the Republic of Venezuela, as the current Chair of the Group of 77 and China. Allow me, however, to make the following few remarks on behalf of the State of Eritrea in its national capacity. As I do so, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Government of Mexico, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and all the other development partners that assumed leadership in the preparations for this timely Conference on Financing for Development for a job well done.

Mr. President,

The people and the Government of the State of Eritrea appreciate the convening of this conference whose underlying objectives is to eradicate world poverty, enhance global cooperation, and secure international peace and security. We believe that extreme poverty, deprivation, and marginalization of peoples anywhere in the world are not only morally indefensible but also contribute to conflict, human right abuses, and global instability. Therefore, we welcome the reaffirmation, through this conference, that both developed and developing nations have a stake in eradicating poverty, and the commitments, on a global basis, to forge a new partnership for development.

We further appreciate the general consensus and commitment reached in Monterrey to establish stronger and more effective developed and developing countries partnership to eradicate poverty through sustained economic growth and development. More specifically, we commend the affirmation:

  • that effective partnership among donors and recipients should be anchored on the recognition by the developed countries that national leadership and ownership of development plans and policies should be the domain of the recipient countries;

  • that development should be effected and sustained through accelerated expansion of private investment and trade, and that trade based on duty and quota free market access to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) exports is the engine for sustained economic growth and development; and 

  • that more generous, more efficient, and untied development assistance should be made available to the LDCs that undertake concrete policy reforms and actions to substantially reduce extreme poverty.

Mr. President,

The people and Government of the State of Eritrea strongly believe that a world free of abject poverty, diseases, and ignorance is a much safer, more humane, more democratic, and more peaceful community to live in. Accordingly, we endorse the outcome of and consensus reached in the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development.

Moreover, it will be important to note that the Millennium Declaration Goals (MDGs) and those of the Conference on Financing for Development are central to Eritrea's development agenda. At liberation in 1991, Eritrea's development efforts started with scant domestic resources and very little or no external assistance. Priority was given to rebuilding the productive base of the war-ravaged economy and to establishing the legal, social and institutional framework required for achieving rapid economic, social, cultural and political development. Poverty reduction through a private sector led, rapid and sustained economic growth has been, and continues to be, central to Eritrea's development strategy. Eritrea's commitment to poverty reduction goals is also enshrined in its constitution in three key articles:

  • Article 8, paragraph 2 states, "The state shall work to bring about a balanced and sustainable development throughout the country, and shall use all available means to enable all citizens to improve their livelihood in a sustainable manner through their participation"; 

  • Article 21, paragraph 1 says, "Every citizen shall have the right of equal access to publicity funded social services. The State shall endeavor, within the limit of its resources, to make available to all citizens health, education, cultural and other social services", and 

  • Article 21, paragraph 2 further states, "The state shall serve, within available means, the social welfare of all citizens and particularly the disadvantaged". 
Accordingly, Eritrea's overarching development objectives are aimed at attaining rapid, sustainable, widely shared economic growth and poverty reduction (in an environmentally sound manner) led by a dynamic private sector. The strategy being pursued to achieve these objectives involves four main elements:
  • Inducing widely-shared sustained economic growth by establishing a competitive environment in which efficient, export-oriented private firms thrive;

  • Raising the skills and well-being of the Eritrean people by investing in education, capacity and institution building, nutrition, health care, and water and sanitation systems; 

  • Paying special attention to rural poverty reduction by investing in rural infrastructure, agriculture and livestock and pasture management; and

  • Adhering to zero tolerance to corruption in both public and private sector management and establishing sound governance. 
Mr. President,

We have made real progress in all sectors of the economy since 1991. The war devastated transport and communication services have been restored and expanded. The private sector responded to opportunities by investing in the services, construction and other resources based industries. As a result, an average economic growth of over 6% per annum was achieved during 19922001. This was realized despite the negative impact on the economy resulting from the unfortunate border conflict between my country and Ethiopia.

While much progress has been made in increasing access to basic social services since liberation, the coverage and quality of social services is still poor in Eritrea. As a consequence, Eritrea's status of health, nutrition, and education is among the poorest in the world, and will require substantial investments and the support of Eritrea's development partners if the MDGs are to be achieved as planned.

The Eritrean Government believes that the primary responsibility for Eritrea's development lies with the Eritrean people and their government. Accordingly, mobilizing domestic financial and human resources for development is given top priority. External financial and technical assistance resources are also mobilized in order to supplement domestic efforts, mainly in those areas where they could be effectively utilized in advancing the country's development programmes.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that Eritrea welcomes the principles of true partnership as outlined in the Monterrey Consensus. We believe that only a strong partnership between the developed and the developing world can provide a reasonable chance for achieving the Millennium Declaration Goals. My Government looks forward to the urgent and concrete implementation of such a partnership and I wish to assure you, Mr. President, that when the Monterrey Consensus is implemented, and it must, Eritrea will be prepared to meet its obligations and benefit from it in advancing its development efforts towards reducing poverty and achieving the Millennium Declaration Goals.

Thank you for your attention.

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