H.E. Dr Warnasena Rasaputram
Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Unified States of America and to the United States of Mexico
Head of Delegation of Sri Lanka
at the International Conference on Financing for Development
21 March 2002,
Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates,
Sri Lanka welcomes the excellent report of the Panel of Experts and endorses the Monterrey Consensus. They give us hope and strength that the problems faced by developing countries in the path to the eradication of poverty and rapid economic growth have been well studied to the point of evolving an Action Plan to meet the challenges with a determined commitment. We have come here with a lot of hope.
The Monterrey Consensus sets the guidelines but not the targets to be achieved in financing development and eradicating poverty. We have set these guidelines before, but not achieved very much and missed all the opportunities. The Hour has come.
Today, we have the opportunity to move forward, to act with firm commitment on the basis of shared responsibility to keep to the target of reducing poverty by half in 2015 and finally eliminating poverty In 10 years later. At the Millennium Summit the United Nation's Secretary General presented the 21st Century Action Plan. The UN has already set the deadline for poverty eradication by half by 2015. What is required now is to strengthen the arm of development paradigm by a time bound Action Plan for poverty eradication. This has to be done almost immediately to take advantage of *the current atmosphere regarding global security. The problem of poverty has come to the center stage after the terrorist attacks on September 11th. The world security and future development and growth will therefore depend on the eradication of poverty by the same coalition of forces that joined together to attack terrorism. Though poverty is not the only cause of terrorism an Action Plan will adopt a holistic approach to prepare the environment for peace and harmony by removing corruption and inculcating the human values of love, respect for human rights, justice for all, tolerance and right understanding.
Tangible results obtained through education, health and nutrition programs will generate the necessary alliance with the businesses, the government and non-government organizations. Cultural activities will naturally have place to broaden the economic dimension for the creation of more jobs with greater access to local finance. Therefore an Action Plan accepted by all countries of the UN, using the inputs from all countries, has to be implemented with the highest degree of priority and urgency so that poverty can be eradicated by the year 2025. It must be remembered that this Action Plan is a contract between the developed and developing countries with the UN to keep to the performance criteria agreed by all countries.
The United Nations may also evaluate and review the progress of a global poverty program annually. The partnership with UN will avoid delays and enable deficiencies to be corrected on time. It is expected that partnership will be broadened to include international organizations, and the private sector.
In the search for finance for development we cannot be overoptimistic about foreign assistance. In fact such assistance can be temporary. It is believed that removal of trade barriers can generate nearly $300 billion for the developing countries through trade. The need for direct foreign investment is well documented. Money flows when confidence is high. Therefore, confidence building measures must be put in place particularly by the developing countries to remove the legacy of distrust about the utilization of funds. Economic reforms and policy initiatives to raise local savings to the highest possible level, sound macroeconomic management and good governance must necessarily prepare the ground for greater financial assistance for the developing countries. .
The speculative capital movements which brought about the Asian financial crisis are fresh in our minds. It is our hope that the IMF will develop an alliance among all the players so that danger signals will be attended to forthwith by developing a -strategic partnership with the capital providers and the securities commissidn5 of the countries. It is necessary that countries start with a clean- slate about the volume of its debts. The poor countries that are unable to meet the debt burden may have part of the debt written off and aid programs include a large grant element
Finally, it is the shared responsibility of all to meet the democratic challenges by providing all the developing countries to strengthen their democracies by widening economic and social opportunities. When society gets transformed it may be aided by consistency of policies, increasing public trust and confidence, including a broader vision for the future and the building up of strong institutions that command the highest respect by the people and organization both within and outside.