Dr. Kadi Sesay
Minister of Development and Economic Planning

International Conference on Financing for Development 

Monterrey, Mexico
22 March 2002

1. Mr. Chairman, Your Excellencies, Mr. Secretary General, of the United Nations, Heads of International Financial Institutions, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, the President of the World Bank, the Head of the World Trade Organisation, Representatives of Bilateral and other Multilateral institutions, Representatives of NGOs, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me extend greetings and felicitations from the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Alhaji (Dr.) Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to all participants at this conference and also extend his apologies for his unavoidable absence at this conference due to urgent domestic issues. Let me also enjoin the other delegations to thank the President, Government and people of Mexico for the warm hospitality accorded the delegations since our arrival here in Monterrey. Also, I wish to express my gratitude to the organisers of the conference for such excellent conference facilities and arrangements.

2. Mr. Chairman, Sierra Leone views this conference as important and timely as it touches on issues that are fundamental to the global development agenda in general and to our specific developmental requirements as a post conflict country. Following a decade long civil conflict, our economy is in tatters and human capacity severely eroded. The costs of the war in terms of human lives, property and lost opportunities are enormous. On the human side, millions of our people remain either internally displaced persons or refugees in neighbouring countries while tens of thousands have perished. The war also severely damaged the basic social and economic infrastructure. The economy, though, has remained relatively stable despite large fiscal and external account imbalances. In this respect, Sierra Leone, like other post conflict countries, must be treated as a special case.

3. Despite these difficulties, our Government worked hard to secure peace, disarm and demobilize former combatants and reestablish control throughout the country. Thanks mainly to our friends in the international community, namely; our friends in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations, The United Kingdom, the United States of America and many other bilateral and multilateral organisations, the civil war in Sierra Leone is now over. I, therefore, wish to seize the opportunity provided by this meeting to publicly extend to all of you the gratitude of the President and people of Sierra Leone for your assistance and support in our time of dire need.

4. Mr. Chairman, on the specific issues of this conference, we believe that a broader and regional economic integration and cooperation among nations is a better framework for promoting economic stability and development especially in the Africa region. In West Africa, ECOWAS remains our key instrument for sub regional cooperation in harnessing our resources, both human and physical, to promote competitiveness. At the continental level, we support the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) that provides a long-term development vision for the continent. As you may know, the initiative focuses on key priority areas including promotion of peace, security and good governance; consolidation of democracy; the promotion of the role of women in all aspects of development; sound economic management and reduction of poverty. It, therefore, provides an important framework, through partnership and a shared vision, for meeting our development challenges, based on the principle of ownership of the development process by the people of Africa. More importantly, NEPAD seeks to promote shared objectives and mutual accountability towards agreed outcomes between Africans and their development partners. In Sierra Leone, we are developing our own long-term perspective vision that seeks to define development priorities from a careful analysis of the country's historical experiences, its natural and human resources and its cultural, regional and international context.

Financial Resource Mobilisation
5. Mr. Chairman, as a country just emerging from war, we are aware that good governance and a strong economy are essential to support the process. We also recognise that mobilising financial resources in a transparent manner is vital to the process of growth, development and poverty reduction. In this regard, maximising e resources obtained from existing sources of financing becomes critical. Hence, mobilising domestic savings, both public and private, are essential to sustaining adequate levels of investment and increasing human capital. However, mobilising such savings requires an environment that minimises capital flight and increased productivity while creating an enabling environment to promote foreign investment. The low-income level in our countries is a deterrent to mobilising sufficient savings to finance development. The huge gap between the requisite financing necessary to foster development in line with the millennium development goals and available domestic resources, brings to the fore the importance of external financing in the development process. For Sierra Leone, our huge rehabilitation and reconstruction needs and our weak financial systems would mean that in the short to medium term, focus would increasingly turn to external support to finance immediate development objectives. The negative effects of money laundering do not also help our development efforts. In this connection, I wish to express our government's concern about the grave dangers posed by money laundering and other financial crimes to the stability of our sub region and the wider international community. In this respect, our government will intensify its cooperation in international efforts to effectively combat money laundering and harmful tax practices.

6. Also, we are aware that foreign direct investment, along with other private inflows, is an essential complement to domestic financial resources in support of our growth and development efforts for poverty reduction. A favourable enabling economic and political environment is a key to attracting private inflows. In this regard, our government is determined to implement policies that would foster peace and economic growth while creating the enabling environment for private business to operate. Our completion of an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and the recommendation of our performance by the Executive Board of the IMF under the first review of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility are evidence of this commitment.

Official Development Assistance (ODA)
7. With current levels of domestic savings and investment too low to ensure broadbased, sustainable and equitable growth to attain the targets of the international development goals for poverty reduction by the year 2015, ODA flows to the African region remains of great importance to fill this gap. Official Development Assistance is important in strengthening the ability of governments to make longterm investments, vital for private-sector-led growth. It can also invariably serve as a complementary source of financing for countries with minimal potential to attract private investment flows. Effective ODA can facilitate key public investment programmes in infrastructure and human resource development. In this connection, we believe that with effective and efficient aid coordination mechanisms including the proper targeting of processes, external development assistance could be very effective in reducing poverty, promoting growth and attaining development goals while enhancing peace and reconciliation especially in post-conflict countries. More importantly, donor countries need to revisit the often over-laden conditionalities tied to aid since these create burdensome and bureaucratic processes for recipients, especially for those of us with limited human capacity and skills.

8. During this conference, we are convinced that the developed world would make a strong commitment to providing assistance in an efficient manner while reducing transaction costs to countries in economic crises and those emerging from conflict. In the past, donors have often blamed the lack of political will and poor implementation on the part of recipients, for aid ineffectiveness. However, on our part, we would prefer to point the finger at the unrealistic advice and conditionalities sometimes imposed, the slow and inadequate disbursement of funds, and the adverse international economic environment. Steps to improve aid effectiveness will include emulating best practices and experiences of countries that have succeeded in achieving credible results. At the same time, aid givers would need to harmonise operational procedures and improve access to aid in a timely manner. Such assistance is now even more meaningful within the context of homegrown and home-driven development strategies and policies as embedded in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). It is hoped that all donor interventions in aid recipient countries will use the instrument of the PRSP as a tool for providing aid.

External Debt
9. Mr. Chairman, the debt burden of developing countries remains the key impediment to promoting sustainable growth and development for poverty reduction. The social costs of servicing both domestic and external debts are also high. To make meaningful progress in attaining the international development goals, creditor countries need to give serious consideration to addressing the debt overhang of poor countries. We are all agreed that for the Enhanced HIPC Initiative to have any meaningful impact, it should provide broader and faster relief to eligible countries with substantial amount of resources. Also, eligibility criteria should be able to respond to and take into account unforeseen problems like deterioration in terms of trade and conflicts. In particular, to foster reconciliation and sustain peace, Sierra Leone requires a substantial amount of debt reduction to facilitate the implementation of programmes and deliver basic social services to our rural communities and poor urban areas. Hence, for countries like Sierra Leone, debt cancellation should be given serious consideration, which may be linked to mutually agreed performance indicators including good governance and the implementation of economic reforms.

International Trade
10. Mr. Chairman, we fully recognise the role of international trade as an engine for growth and development. The broad objectives of Africa's participation in multilateral trade negotiations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have been, inter alia, to enhance trade benefits for Africa, secure a fair and balanced system of rights and obligations and support efforts for strengthening supply of capacity to African economies. Another objective is to improve access to markets for products and services for African countries. However, we are all aware that those benefits from trade have not been fully realised by our countries. The decline in Africa's share of world trade for its main exports - primary products - and the declining relative importance of these products in world trade have contributed to the decrease in the continent's share of world trade. Export earnings have become more volatile due to the volatility of the commodity prices themselves.

11. Globalisation will only be meaningful to Africa when the developed world is willing to open their markets to us. Hence, our development partners should support our efforts to strengthen our productive capacities in order to improve overall productivity and the competitiveness of our economies, diversify our production and export base and address the negative impact of declining terms of trade. In this regard, there is an obvious need for multilateral institutions such as the United Nations to continue to facilitate serious dialogue to improve policy coherence in the areas of trade and development financing. Otherwise, our countries risk further marginalization in the global economy.

12. Mr. Chairman, Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in concluding, let me express our strong belief that this conference has provided an opportunity for us developing countries to evolve new strategies of development cooperation with our development partners. Sierra Leone supports the broad outlines of policy contained in the Monterrey Consensus. We hope that all partners will be committed to its objectives for our mutual benefit. We are convinced that follow up actions will be driven by the mutual desire of all parties to search for a common ground to achieve the global millennium development goals to reduce poverty and mitigate the associated risks of the HIV/AIDS epidemic while improving the overall living conditions of our citizens. I recognise that, as usual, the United Nations System will continue to play a leading role in this process. Let me therefore hasten to commend them for their role in advocating strongly for a new development agenda especially for Africa. We will continue to count on them to assist in building this consensus and facilitating the achievement of global stability and development. I thank you all very much for your time.

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