Dr. Kadi Sesay
International Conference on Financing for Development
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
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)
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.
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.
Statements at the Conference