H.E. Hon. Anil Kumarsingh Gayan,
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation

at the
International Conference on Financing for Development

Monterrey, Mexico
March 21-22, 2002


Mr President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Distinguished Delegates,

My country is deeply honoured to be in this beautiful city of Monterrey to participate in the United Nations Conference on Financing for Development. May I express on behalf of my delegation and on my own behalf our heartiest thanks and appreciation to the President, the Government and people of Mexico, for the very warm welcome and hospitality extended since our arrival.

Mr. President, the uniqueness and the historical dimension of this Conference cannot be overemphasized. Monterrey provides an opportunity to refocus on the goals set out in the Millennium Declaration and to correct the unacceptable development imbalances in the world today. 13 years separate us from the year 2015 when the commitments made with respect to the Millennium Development Goals will be assessed. For the sake of the record, those commitments refer to the halving of world poverty, achieving a two-third reduction in child mortality, a reversal of the speed of HIV/AIDS and the provision of primary education to all children around the world.

These goals will only be met if Official Development Assistance (ODA) is substantially increased. In view of the wide margin that exists between the target of 0.7 percent of donor GNP and the present level of ODA and the constant decline in ODA in real terms over the last years, we are convinced that a major effort and commitment must come from the donor countries if they are sincere in reversing the poverty escalation.

We do, however, appreciate that President Bush has announced a US $ 5 billion increase in foreign aid for poor countries from 2003 over a period of three years. This amount which is inadequate for the challenges which we face is all the same important for its psychological dimension. Likewise we welcome the pledge made by the European Union to increase development assistance by 4 Billion dollars by 2006-a 0.03% increase in their current average which will take it to 0.39%. We would have wished the US and the EU to pledge outright that they would double their aid fund since that would come close to what the World Bank estimates is necessary to help poor countries meet the UN Millennium Development Goals.

We consider that the fight against poverty cannot be waged on the battlefield of ideology and subjectivity since poverty is ideology-free, objective and neutral. Already there are too many conditionalities attached to aid without the necessity of adding further to them.

For the first time in recorded history, mankind has not only the resources and the means but also the knowledge to win the war against poverty. The mistakes committed both by the donor countries as well as the recipient ones have been learnt and not forgotten. The poverty-trapped countries expect the industrialized countries to be generous committed for the long term. The prosperity of the developing countries can only increase the wealth of their developed partners! But the untied aid package is still far short of what is needed.

Developing countries for their part, are wedded to sound economic policies, good governance, a right mix: between the public and private sectors and a determination to eradicate corruption. Indeed the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is a model of the policies that developing countries in Africa, including the least developed among them, are already adhering to.

Good governance is a two-way process and this is why we feel strongly that the request which African developing countries have made to their developed partners to return all ill-acquired wealth invested in the West should be favourably entertained. All such ill-gotten money belongs to the developing countries and this money represents untied resources for financing our development. While we subscribe to the necessity of accountability, we believe also that such accountability must be based on reciprocity. There should be a real partnership for accountability purposes.

Mauritius believes that the financing for development should not be looked at only as a relationship between the rich countries and the poor ones. There are a sizable number of countries which are in the middle income and they are in serious danger of being sidelined by a simplistic approach to financing for development. We support the initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) but we are also concerned that middle-income countries must not be denied access to concessional loans and other facilities, terms and conditions the lending institutions make available to poor countries. There should be no "punishing" of these countries which are sidelined on account of their relative positive performance.

As we in Africa embark upon the construction of the African Union and the implementation of the underlying philosophy, principles and policies of NEPAD and as we reform and modernize our economic structures in conjunction with the private sector, our legal system and other institutions, we need to know that there will be no major policy shifts on the part of the developed countries. Africa's development strategies will need to have bearings which need to be stable for the long term. It is for this reason that we cannot contemplate a situation where those who preach free trade and competition for others also practise protectionism for short-term domestic political interests. Such policy shifts damage our confidence and adversely impact upon our long term planning.

The recently formed Investment Advisory Council which provides the business response to NEPAD will also help in achieving closer interaction and collaboration between the lending institutions, business leaders and governments. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is critical for Africa to escape the double trap of poverty and debt. But as I have said earlier, along with FDI, there is a dire need for it to be accompanied by Official Development As sistance at least for the foreseen future.

Monterrey is a new beginning as it breaks the cycle of dashed hopes. The Monterrey Consensus is indeed a welcome step forward_ We need to build on it and take concrete action to implement its commitments. As we prepare to proceed to Johannesburg later this year for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, let us express the wish that the industrialized countries will sustain their interest in rescuing the poor countries and empowering them to become genuine players and partners on the globalisation stage.

Just like September 11 galvanised the international community To wage relentless war against terrorism we have the conviction that Monterrey will heighten the awareness of the same international community to wage an equally relentless war against poverty.
Muchas gracias.

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