His Excellency Mr. Ricardo Maduro Joest
Honduras supports the objectives and the commitments by donors at this Conference. The trend and the general direction are probably right. We hope to reach the goal of 0.7 per cent of the gross domestic product, as set forth in the Millennium Declaration. We also urge the donor countries to make additional commitments, as proposed by the United States with regard to World Bank operations for developing countries to increase grants, rather than concessional loans. We recognize that success in reducing poverty is possible only if there is assistance to development and access to markets; if there is assistance linked to appropriate domestic policies in our countries.
I should like to speak first about the changes needed to strengthen the confidence of our peoples in their leaders and institutions; in other words, in governance. In the past year in Honduras, all the political parties and society in general have reached agreements to establish a new Supreme Court that is independent of political and economic powers. We are strengthening the State and its functions. We want to have a Congress that is closer to the electorate and have depoliticized electoral commissions. There will no longer be immunity for public officials. These are some of the reforms that we have made.
Secondly, human development must be a priority. There must efficient, sustainable and fair development in providing education and health services for our people. Our tax and fiscal system requires very careful management to ensure stability. However, we will keep funds for education, health and security intact. Our people realize that sustainability depends in part on significant and timely assistance from the international community, but it depends even more on firm and resolute participation by our citizens, organizations and civil society.
We recognize the tragic breakdown in some key actions by our Government because of the politicization of our public authorities and institutions. We are facing that problem. We are proceeding with depoliticization, efficiency and transparency in our public bodies. The only sustainable solution is participation by our citizens over the long term. We are demonstrating our approach. Markets must be open. We have started by opening up our markets to our neighbours in Central America. We are determined to resolve any differences we have on this.
We have met with the Presidents of Panama and Belize five times in the last month and a half, with a view to seeking greater regional integration, settling our differences and establishing a community in Central America based on solidarity so that we can present ourselves as a solid block to address the challenges we all face. I would just like to thank our regional neighbours for their firm commitment to our shared regional dream. Political and civil society in Honduras are working together today in bringing about change in our society. Honduras is now ready to play its part as a partner with others in development - with our regional brothers and sisters and at the world level - and we are all seeking to reduce poverty among our people.
* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.