His Excellency The Honourable Majozi Sithole
Allow me to first greet the participants and express my gratitude to the Government of Mexico for the warm hospitality which has been extended to us. Our thanks go also to the Secretary-General and his staff for all the preparations that they have made for this conference.
I am greatly honoured to address this gathering of the United Nations International Conference on Financing for Development on behalf of the Government of His Majesty King Mswati III. In so doing, I also wish to associate myself with the statement of the Chairman of the Group of 77, His Excellency Mr. Hugo Chavez, the President of the Republic of Venezuela.
The Kingdom of Swaziland welcomes the dynamic developments in the world economy brought about by globalization and the strides that have been made towards ensuring sustainable development for all. While the overall picture may look positive, behind it is concealed a number of persistent imbalances threatening the stability of the present growth path. We have noted with great concern that developing countries, including Swaziland, have continued to be confronted with dwindling private financial flows and official development assistance, limited access to markets for their goods, non-competitive prices for goods in overseas markets, high levels of poverty, the HIV/AIDS scourge and the recurring budget deficits.
In addressing these issues, the Kingdom of Swaziland has devised a national development strategy, which is the country’s vision to be at the top 10 per cent of the median human development group of countries founded on sustainable economic development, sound justice and political stability by the year 2022. This vision is consistent with the Millennium Development Goals.
However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has continued to be a major threat and a setback to our efforts. As a result, the Government has since adopted an HIV/AIDS emergency response committee to coordinate the implementation of an HIV/AIDS strategy plan. An HIV/AIDS fund has been set up to enhance and augment our efforts. We appeal to donors to make contributions to finance our fight against this pandemic. Developing countries like my own are conscious of the need to accelerate the pace of mobilization of domestic resources to promote high investment in our countries and subsequently address the present social and economic problems.
However, of critical importance is the provision of additional finances from the developed world to augment to augment the existing finance in the developing countries. In this context, the Kingdom of Swaziland has embarked on a major drive to mobilize resources to finance national infrastructural projects. With the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank, we are preparing for a donor roundtable to be held in June and July this year in Geneva to solicit financial support from the international community. We will therefore be visiting your capitals and organizations in the next two months with the appropriate documentation.
The importance of trade to sustainable development and poverty alleviation can never be overemphasized. In this regard, we welcome the endeavour to open markets to the developing world, as it has become clear that trade barriers make it difficult for the developing world to succeed in the trade arena.
The time has come for this change so that benefits from trade also accrue to those countries which are currently lagging behind. To that end, we welcome the initiatives taken by the United States through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, and we would further urge other developed countries to honour their obligations under the World Trade Organization to improve accessibility to their markets by the developing countries in order to stimulate economic growth.
We view with great concern the continued decline of official development assistance to developing countries, especially the least developed countries. With official development assistance, it is difficult for poor countries to make any meaningful strides in their endeavour to uplift the standard of living of their poor masses. We therefore urge the international community to redouble its effort towards accelerating developing in Africa through increased official development assistance. We as developing nations are also fully committed to ensuring that these resources are located appropriately to ensure that poverty reduction goals that we have set for ourselves are achieved.
The debt burden faced by developing countries continues to be a source of concern to all of us. We share the view that indeed countries that are heavily indebted require the assistance of creditor countries to disentangle themselves. In this regard, we appeal to the international community, particularly creditor countries to convert the debt to grants or cancel the debt altogether. That would assist in freeing much needed resources for spending in other pressing needs.
Whilst we recognize the correct mix of appropriate policy measure to assist the developing world to realize freedom from debt, we wish to underscore the importance of close collaboration with international financial institutions to implement solutions that tailor-made to suit individual situations.
In conclusion, we view the Monterrey Consensus document as a good basis for addressing the issues of financing for development. It is a roadmap that could be used to guide us towards achieving the Millennium Declaration goals. However its success will depend entirely on implementation, monitoring and continued review and evaluation. To that end, we would support regular dialogue between all stakeholders for the fulfillment of the objectives of the Consensus.
* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.