Hon. Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat
Minister for Finance

International Conference on Financing for Development 

Monterrey, Mexico
22 March 2002

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We heartily congratulate you, Mr. President, for the outstanding leadership you have given to this conference and thank the government and people of Mexico for the reception and hospitality we have been accorded here.

Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan deserves our appreciation for the admirable dynamism and insight that he has brought to this conference.

We have come to Monterrey with great hope. Though short of meeting our expectations, the draft Monterrey consensus does constitute a significant step forward in the continuum of our collective efforts to promote prosperity and peace. Particularly, it offers a useful framework for us to embark on new initiatives and to pursue new patterns of global partnerships for funding development and helping realise the millennium development goals.

Today, democracy, freedoms and free markets have become the defining features and globalisation the dominant theme for the world. However, they have not yet become irreversible. It is incumbent on leaders to bring statesmanship and commitment to make these values work for all through the emerging partnerships.

Developing countries must own and lead coherent and consistent effort to raise more domestic resources, attract investments, foster trade, and improve governance. But they cannot do it alone. They require, from development partners, increased aid, debt relief, access to markets, support to improve their governance, and equitable voice in global decisions that impact their destiny.

Nepal, as most other developing countries, has been doing all in its powers to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development through innovative means. The government is investing in people on priority basis by focusing public expenditure on education, health and drinking water as well as in infrastructure. It is also engaged in active and broad-based partnerships with the private sector, non-governmental organisations, community groups and ordinary men and women in a synergistic interface for comprehensive progress.

We need resources to implement quick-impact projects in rural areas where poverty is most acute. And we also require sustained and increased assistance to bridge our chronic resources gap to complement our development efforts and to strengthen democracy and foster just society. We believe Nepal's generally satisfactory macro-economic and human development performance in the last decade qualifies it for more aid and support on merit.

Mr. President,

Rich nations can and must assist the poor to eradicate the worst forms of poverty, promote education, tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and create physical infrastructure as well as to manage their conflicts, crimes and environment. Such help will add to the security and wellbeing of the rich and be a morally right thing to do in view of wide disparity in wealth and income.

They should sincerely strive to meet the agreed development assistance targets. Some have done it and we salute them. We also welcome the fresh initiatives of the EU and USA to boost their 1 aid budgets as a step in the right direction. We urge all development partners to show political will and resolve to make these targets a reality.

Low and middle-income countries are reeling under unsustainable debt burden. The HIPC initiative must be expanded to provide relief to all that are in dire need. Particularly, the poorest countries like Nepal should not be asked to wait for help until they stumble into bankruptcy. We, therefore, support proposals for debt cancellation of all least developed nations and for grant-funding of their social sectors in future.

Aid has helped in increasing literacy, eradicating some diseases and arresting others, and even reducing poverty in many countries, including Nepal. Small pockets of scepticism in the North should not get the better of progress that improved aid performance and debt relief can bring to the poor in the South.

Foreign direct investment throws a blank stare of loud neglect to poor, small and geographically handicapped states. Advanced countries will have to tear down their tariff and nontariff barriers and open their markets to spur investment and spark innovation in developing nations. We must ensure that the Doha round accelerates development without distortions.

Least developed countries from Asia and Africa are facing the most precarious predicament. They need urgent help through the prompt implementation of the Brussels Program of Action and in its entirety. Their products must be given duty-free and quota-free access to all advanced markets and particular attention to build their capacities to trade. We seek early measures for market opening under the European Union's "anything-but-arms" scheme and underline the necessity for other developed countries to take similar measures.

Mr. President,

Nepal from its own painful experience knows that peace, democracy and development are inextricably linked and one cannot be secure without the other. We must all join forces to promote them together.

We share common humanity and common destiny in the global village. In the post-September I 1 period, we have all become deeply conscious that conflicts and poverty even far away from our homes directly and seriously affect us. By working together, the world community is winning victory in the battle over terrorism. But terror and insecurity will not be defeated and lasting peace will not be won until we win the war against poverty. And at Monterrey we must declare that last war.

Thank you Mr. President.

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