His Excellency The Honourable Mohamed Jaleel
I am honoured to read out this message from His Excellency Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, President of the Republic of Maldives, to the International Conference on Financing for Development.
“I had indeed been looking forward to attending this momentous Conference in Monterrey, but important engagements at home have not made it possible for me to be there today. Nevertheless, with your indulgence, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and ideas on the vitally important issues before this forum. But let me begin by wishing this historic gathering success in its urgent and challenging endeavour.
“You are meeting at a time of global economic downturn. The terrorist attacks in the United States last September had aggravated the difficulties the world economy had been experiencing for the past year or so. The economy of my country, the Maldives, has also been severely affected by these problems. Indeed, times are hard globally. But they will become even tougher unless a concerted effort is made to address the crippling economic difficulties being faced by many developing countries.
“The Monterrey Consensus that had so carefully been crafted in the months proceeding this Conference identified several key practical measures to mobilize development funds. But as the high-level panel chaired by the former President of Mexico, Dr. Ernest Zedillo, has reported, there is no substitute for finding additional resources, especially in official development assistance. Proposals to increase SDR allocations and replenish IDA funds and appeals to meet the 0.7 per cent target of official development assistance need to be implemented. Likewise, ideas of funding global public goods, especially those that will contribute to arresting environmental degradation, particularly global warming, must be fully explored.
“The Maldives is a very small country of 270,000 people. We have very limited natural resources and face many developmental constraints. Our economy is primarily based on tourism and fisheries. We have very little scope for economic diversification or for mobilizing sufficient domestic capital. Financing our further development requires continued and enhanced preferential access to markets and capital. Despite the structural impediments that we face, we have for many years managed to sustain a healthy rate of economic growth and development.
“Thanks to the hard work of our people and the support of the donor community, we are accelerating structural reforms to increase the flow of foreign investment into the country. However, the success that we have so far been able to achieve through the prudent management of our limited resources has led to calls in some quarters for the withdrawal of concessions that currently contribute to our development. Doing that would amount to a serious penalty. It would be one that would impose huge costs on our economy, for the structural problems that constrain our development have not been overcome.
“There is a need to be more sensitive to the individual circumstances of specific countries when decisions of a general nature are taken. Fighting poverty and deprivation is a serious challenge. It is estimated that approximately 900 million people in the Asian and Pacific region alone belong to the world’s poor and earn less than the equivalent of $1 per day. It is vital that we recognize the pressing need to address this challenge and forge a common strategy in achieving the global development goals agreed in the Millennium Declaration.
“As the Zedillo panel has pointed out, attaining those targets alone would require at least an additional $15 billion in official development assistance per annum. Every effort must be made to achieve the agreed target of 0.7 per cent of the gross national product in official development assistance. Similarly, we, the developing world, must undertake to use these limited official development assistance resources wisely and efficiently and work in real partnership with the donors.
“In a global village, development becomes a public good; one from which everyone benefits, for democracy, peace and development are all ultimately interrelated.”
* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.