Hon. Famara L. Jatta
Secretary of State for Finance and Economic Affairs 

International Conference on Financing for Development 

Monterrey, Mexico
22 March 2002


On behalf of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Dr. Alhaji Yaya A.J.J Jammeh and my delegation, I should like to express our appreciation to the Government of Mexico for hosting this historic conference and for the warm reception extended to me, and my delegation since our arrival in this beautiful city of Monterrey. We also commend the United Nations Secretariat, the World Bank, IMF and WTO, for their role in the preparation of this conference and for their continued support to LDCs in our bid to meet the myriad challenges of globalization.

Mr. Chairman,
The declining level of ODA is a matter of grave concern to developing Countries, especially the LDCs. Even though ODA is critical for meeting our many investment requirements and for eradicating poverty in the LDCs, most of our development partners have not fulfilled their commitments to its substantial increase. On the part of the LDCs, it is imperative to improve the utilization and effectiveness of ODA, so as to reduce and eventually phase out our aid dependency. We are concerned about the persistent decline of aid flows and believe that ODA must be increased to the agreed annual equivalent of 0.7 percent of the GNP of developed countries. This need becomes urgent against the backdrop of the well 
known difficulties faced by the LDCs in generating sufficient resources domestically, for their development requirements.

Mr. Chairman,
External debt is a serious challenge to almost all developing countries and there is need for appropriate strategies compatible with a range of situations. We should, together, agree on practical, realistic and comprehensive solutions to the problems of external debt of developing countries. Debt relief, including debt cancellation, should be provided expeditiously for highly indebted poor countries. The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative should be fully financed through additional resources and not from resources hived off from outlays already made for our development priorities.

The HIPC Ministers, meeting on Financing Poverty Reduction Beyond HIPC II reiterated their commitment to mobilizing external and national resources for poverty reduction, in ways that would ensure genuine long-term debt sustainability and financial market development. They also committed themselves to utilize debt relief proceeds productively and transparently on poverty reduction programmes, among other things. We will obviously not be able to do all of this by ourselves. We shall require commitment from, and partnership with the international community. Above all, we shall need substantial new external financing in support of our efforts.

Mr. Chairman,
In The Gambia, we have been making serious efforts to create an enabling environment to expand the domestic resource base, and strengthen mechanisms and Institutions to generate more resources and utilize them more efficiently, and to improve the trade and investment climate. Our efforts have led to dramatic improvements in recent years as a result of our implementation of comprehensive structural and institutional reform measures, which emphasize greater reliance on market-based mechanisms for the allocation of resources. These reforms include the liberalization of trading and payment arrangements, in furtherance of Government's objective to reduce the size and role of the public sector and correspondingly, make the private sector the economy's main engine of growth.

We have however, come to the realization that, in spite of our own individual efforts, the most important determinant of success on a sustained basis, is a supportive and conducive International environment.

This conference would therefore have succeeded to the extent that it proves able to lay the foundation of a new International financial system that would be responsive to the priorities of growth, development and economic and social equity in the developing countries.

Although globalization has helped increase growth and wealth in certain countries in recent years, it has not done so for the LDC's. A worsening of the imbalances has impeded development and aggravated poverty in the LDC's. And while we welcome the opportunities globalization could offer for socio-economic progress, we fear that as pursued at present, it is threatening to further marginalise the poor in many of our countries.

Mr. Chairman,
Trade is a most important mechanism for mobilizing and expanding the resource base for financing development. In my view, an open, rules-based, transparent and nondiscriminatory and predictable multilateral trading system, is essential for a healthy global economic system and would contribute significantly to world economic growth and the smooth integration of the economies of developing countries into the global economy. The multilateral trading system under the WTO must therefore be sensitive to the particular needs of LDCs.

Mr. Chairman,
The initiative by President Bush to increase the share of grants (as opposed to loans) in IDA, the concessional lending window of the World Bank, is a step in the right direction. We fully support the idea of increasing the grant element to IDA only countries to 50% in a bid to improve the effectiveness of development assistance and to increase per capita incomes in the poorest countries. However, most donors have been reluctant to come along with the U.S. on this issue. I am kindly appealing to the donor community to support the U.S. in this positive and laudable initiative in our fight against poverty. In the same vein we welcome the decisions to increase ODA by President Bush and the European Union.

Mr. Chairman,
We wish to express our faith and confidence in the millennium development goals, which although ambitious but are indeed achievable with the concerted and sustained action by LDCs and their development partners. Developed Countries must unlock the financial resources needed for the development of LDCs, and for the attainment of the Millennium development goals. An effective follow-up and monitoring mechanism should be established for this Conference with a time bound action program to ensure that aid is delivered to the poor, and on time.

Mr. Chairman,
The task ahead may be daunting, but my delegation is confident that the collective wisdom of this Conference will provide a framework for a strong global partnership based on shared responsibility to promote economic growth and development in the LDCs. In this, all countries have a role to play and none ought, for whatever reason, be left out, least of all, those countries that have shown goodwill and a willingness to contribute significantly to world trade, employment creation and poverty alleviation. The Republic of China (Taiwan) has done much to contribute to these global responsibilities; and their presence here, as a major trading nation and a not-insignificant generator of income earnings for many around the world, would have, no doubt, enriched our deliberations.

My Government pledges its full support to the process that is unfolding at this Conference, and looks forward to the early implementation of the many commitments made by developed and developing countries alike, at this historic meeting in Monterrey.

I thank you for your attention.

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