African statements: Wednesday

Date published on source: 
15 July 2015
Source organisation: 
UN News Centre

Addis Ababa: Ministers of countries that had made strides in the complex task of sustaining social cohesion and growing their economies, nevertheless urged the adoption at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, in Ethiopia, of an effective framework for assistance that would help build the resilience of all States to the multiple crises the world currently faced.

“Let us leave this milestone event with a clear plan as to how to make financing for development fully operational so that all our countries become less vulnerable, more resilient and able to provide a decent living for all our people,” the Minister representing Barbados said early in today’s session, noting that his country, though it had made enough progress to be deemed “middle-income”, was threatened by natural disasters, climate change impacts, financial shocks and market variability.

The four-day Conference was mandated by the General Assembly to assess progress in development financing in the framework of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, to reinvigorate follow-up, and, most importantly, to create a blueprint for international development cooperation that would support the post-2015 agenda, whose adoption is expected at a summit in New York in September. The outcome of the Conference, not yet adopted, is being called the Addis action agenda.

In today’s session [Wednesday], speakers from nations with a range of challenges reaffirmed the importance of official development assistance (ODA), especially for the least developed countries, and an enabling environment for enduring economic growth, domestic resource mobilization and private-sector investment, aided both by international, triangular and South-South cooperation. In that collective responsibility, recipient countries sought assistance based on their needs, while donor countries urged the enhanced effectiveness of all forms of financing.

Also offering policy prescriptions were representatives of middle-income developing countries and others who said that building resilience should be complemented by institutional and human capacity-building in order to create the conditions for sustainable growth. Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and Planning said accepting differences in capacity while recognizing communality of goals was the core of the partnership required to fuel completion of work on the action plan.

He was among several speakers who urged action to mitigate heavy debt burdens that had been exacerbated by the recent market volatility and other crises constraining progress. He also sought a review of the criteria for ranking countries as middle-income. The Minister of Maghreb Affairs, African Union and League of Arab States of Algeria advocated full respect for debt relief, productive investment and global governance reform. Mali’s Foreign Affairs Minister called on donors, especially the international financial institutions, to consider the country’s ability to pay.

Several representatives of countries whose structural conditions were not yet sufficiently robust to rely on financial markets for all their funding proposed the use of “resilience building” as a policy condition for lending by the international financial institutions. Many sought equality of opportunity in the policymaking of those institutions overall, as well as in forums on tax policy, in their effort to better mobilize domestic funds and level the playing field.

In that light, some speakers urged more multilateralism in establishing global standards on financial matters. They welcomed elements of the draft text, such as the affirmation of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the establishment of a technology facilitation mechanism. India’s representative expressed deep disappointment over the lack of a decision to establish an intergovernmental body at the United Nations for tax matters, calling that “an historic missed opportunity”. Greater information exchange was good, but did not replace equitable representation in the creation of standards.

Also speaking today were ministers and diplomatic officials representing Cabo Verde, Saint Lucia, Burkina Faso, Bhutan, Bahrain, Madagascar, India, Iceland, Central African Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Philippines, Burundi, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Mexico, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, Egypt, Venezuela, Qatar, Switzerland, Spain, Iraq, Netherlands, Rwanda, Chad, Congo, Malta, Russian Federation, Hungary, Bangladesh, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Viet Nam, Ireland, Thailand, Montenegro, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nepal, Chile, Cuba, Israel, Malaysia, Austria, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Tunisia and Angola.

The Observer for the Holy See also made a statement, as did representatives of the International Trade Centre, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), International Organization for Migration, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the International Civil Aviation Organization.

African statements during the debate:

CRISTINA DUARTE, Minister of Finance and Planning of Cabo Verde, said natural resource management must be improved, as its current inadequacy explained the paradox of development in Africa, a continent which, despite its resources, was the poorest. Doing better required solving the problems of mispricing, rent seeking and ineffective mineral property rights. African policymakers must enhance institutions to capture and manage fiscal resources, aiming to end tax avoidance and evasion. Africa lost $50 billion annually to illicit flows and required $24 billion annually to implement universal access to reliable energy and clean power. What Africa did not lose in illicit funds was “officially” kept off the continent in the form of international reserves and pension funds. It was time to deploy resources for development and not wait five years for a loan, which often carried negative conditions. In the coming decades, a key challenge would be to ensure the emergence of a genuine capitalist class. It would not be possible to develop or transform the continent without it, she asserted.

GUSTAVE SANON, Minister of Economy and Finance of Burkina Faso, associating with the Francophone Group and the Group of 77 and China, hoped the agenda would usher in a new era of shared, sustainable prosperity. Describing his country’s development programmes, he highlighted mobilization of domestic resources through tax reform. Official development assistance (ODA) was a very important element and any drop in aid was of great concern. He pledged that his country would ensure effective use of that aid. There was greater transparency in exploitation of resources such as gold, as well as anti-corruption efforts. Youth and women’s employment was a major concern, along with eliminating extreme poverty and mitigating the severe effects of climate change. To help his country overcome those challenges, he called for follow-up on agreements made in Addis Ababa.

BEATRICE ATALLAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Madagascar, said poverty alleviation was a battle to ensure harmonious sustainable development. “These challenges are monumental,” she said, stressing that her country had seen violent cyclones, flooding and drought. She supported all initiatives aimed at building climate-change resilience. Deficits, connectivity and means of payment were challenges more keenly felt by poor countries and often exacerbated by social crises, weakened economic situations and conflict. Achieving objectives required a change of mindset, notably the better management of human resources. Madagascar’s national development plan sought inclusive, sustainable development that prioritized human capital, good governance and natural capital, among other things. The private sector had a crucial role in creating jobs and providing a “growth engine”. Good governance and the rule of law were not enough: “We need external finance”, both innovative and direct investment from abroad, particularly for infrastructure, she said.

ABDELKADER MESSAHEL, Minister of Maghreb Affairs, African Union and League of Arab States of Algeria, expressed satisfaction that the Conference was not characterized by unfair accusations. A realistic review of progress since the Monterrey and Doha conferences was the best way to identify progress in fighting poverty and achieving social development. It would identify the “huge” efforts made by African countries since the launch of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which aimed to optimize and mobilize the full range of development finance and manage external debt. ODA had a key role in fighting poverty, building capacities and reducing infrastructure deficits. That role must be reviewed in line with principles that ensured its effectiveness, notably concerning structural allocation. He advocated full respect for debt relief, productive investment and global governance reform.

FLORENCE LIMBIO, Minister of Economy, Planning and International Cooperation in charge of Policy Development of the Central African Republic, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) list of fragile States revealed that those nations were home to 43 per cent of people living on $1.25 per day. Poverty would be exacerbated by 2030. A more flexible and reactive finance system was needed for post-conflict countries to achieve sustainable development. Indeed, for those countries, domestic resource mobilization had to be accomplished through, in part, broadening the tax base, doing away with tax breaks and better managing contracts, all of which could improve the “public purse”. Conflict had prevented her country from achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals. It had organized a national reconciliation forum which had heard recommendations to decommission weapons and reintegrate people back into normal work life. Elections must be organized and displaced persons must return. “My country has huge needs,” which required strong international mobilization, she said.

TABU ABDALLAH MANIRAKIZA, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Planning of Burundi, associating with the Group of 77 and China, and the least developed countries, said that the commitments made in previous conferences must be fulfilled in order to bring about the needed transformation, particularly in Africa. Illicit financial flows must be stopped and industrialization and technology transfer stepped up. Development of human capital and infrastructure was also essential. International cooperation was critical in all such areas. North-South cooperation was central in that context and could be complemented by South-South cooperation, in a climate of respect for the independence of all countries’ internal affairs.

EMMANUEL NGANOU DJOLUMESSI, Minister of Economy and National Planning of Cameroon, said significant efforts were needed to address persistent challenges in education, employment and socioeconomic inclusion. Developing country reforms should be reviewed in the areas of infrastructure and good governance. For its part, Cameroon was working with its partners on a number of projects to increase structural investments. The multi-risk contingency plan, for example, aimed to ensure the country could resist internal and external shocks. He urged its partners to help limit impacts of refugees and persons internally displaced by war. A system was in place to help those who promoted public-private partnerships, with gains seen in the areas of water and roads. He called for continued increase of ODA to meet the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income. He urged combating illicit financial flows and making progress on trade. He urged enshrining commitments made in the Addis action plan. Cameroon would broaden its tax base and ensure that joint work adhered to its national development strategy.

ABDOULAYE DIOP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Integration and International Cooperation, and Special Envoy of the President of Mali, said the results of the Monterrey and Doha conferences had been mixed, although he was pleased at progress in debt relief and the fact that some countries had gone beyond the 0.7 per cent ODA target. Mali had worked to improve its business climate through public-private partnerships, having provided support to agriculture, health, education and youth employment. In mobilizing national savings, Mali had set a target for internal resources through a modern management system and better “tax take”. Its “Unit Life” initiative tackled malnutrition, in part by identifying how extractive resources could address that problem. Remittances accounted for $860 million a year, or 11 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), and they must be harnessed for development, he said, expressing concern at aid concessions, which made it difficult for Mali to mobilize resources. He called on donors, especially international financial institutions, to consider Mali’s ability to repay.

MIGUEL ENGONGA OBIANG EYANG, Minister of Finance and Budget of Equatorial Guinea, emphasized the importance of implementation and transparency in financing for internationally agreed goals. Technology transfer should be effectively carried out to promote industrialization. He attached great importance to the issue of climate change, and welcomed the process initiated by the Green Climate Fund. Sustainable development also must be promoted in the context of growing international trade, the reduction of non-tariff barriers, and improved transparency and equity. He urged that measures in Monterrey and Doha documents be implemented, as they were important instruments to foster sustainable development.

MARY JERVASE YAK, Deputy Minister of Finance, Commerce, Investment and Economic Planning of South Sudan, affirmed the need for the Conference to take into consideration the needs of fragile, conflict-affected countries. Inclusiveness, support for domestic resource mobilization and resource management, and improved access to climate finance were some of the priorities for such countries. For those purposes, she urged developed countries to continue and enhance ODA. At the same time, her Government reaffirmed its commitment to peace and stability to allow development to take hold.

HANY KADRY DAMIAN, Minister of Finance of Egypt, urged stepped-up efforts to address economic and demographic changes, as well as environmental threats. Decisions to address global temperature rise must be taken and agreement reached on sustainable development objectives. The available tools and resources were not compatible with the level of global ambition. Different mechanisms were needed to help countries reach their goals. There were divergences in country resources and he urged consideration of the different contributions that countries could make. He called for reform of the multilateral trade system that ensured market access, technology development and a balanced approach to intellectual property questions. Not all countries were in a position to achieve their goals; they needed financial and technical assistance. Recent years had shown that developing countries could contribute to global economic growth. Developed countries should mobilize resources required by developing countries. He urged a comprehensive and balanced Conference document.

CLAVER GATETE, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Rwanda, said his country had attained all but one of the Millennium Development Goals, having achieved gender parity in education and a “drastic” reduction in maternal and under-5 mortality rates. National leadership and ownership were central to sustaining efforts. Rwanda expected to transition to a middle-income country, transform its economy towards an increased contribution of services and industry, and diversify its export base. Rwanda had doubled its revenue collection as a proportion of GDP to 15 per cent over the last seven years. He supported the creation of a conducive international legal framework that helped countries collect taxes, combat tax evasion and curb illicit financial flows, stressing that the private sector’s ability to make large investments in critical sectors such as infrastructure should be enhanced through a public-private partnership framework.

MARIAM MAHAMAT NOUR, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Chad, supported pooled efforts to create conditions that ensured financial stability, sustainable growth and women’s empowerment. In so doing, it was crucial to consider the special situation of least developed and landlocked countries, small island developing States, and post-conflict nations. Without peace, it would be impossible to mobilize resources. Chad’s quest for peace had been difficult and the country needed international solidarity. It had recently experienced three terrorist attacks, which had claimed 15 lives. But that would not dissuade her country from participating in international peace efforts. Resource mobilization would not suffice without a true global partnership to curb illicit financial flows, estimated at more than $50 billion annually. A landlocked country, Chad attached priority to infrastructure development and was exploring options for pursuing renewable energy. Technology transfer was also important.

HENRI DJOMBO, Minister for Forestry and Sustainable Development of Congo, said several challenges persisted in Africa, where poverty eradication was far from the reality on the ground. As such, the Conference should define a framework for freeing internal and external means for implementing the sustainable development goals. Further, the new agenda should give priority to national sustainable development strategies, while the Conference should assign to the United Nations a mission to help countries formulate such strategies. Congo’s strategy would be adopted next week. The Conference should encourage more resource mobilization, and an adequately resourced intergovernmental body on tax matters.

SAHBI KHALFALLAH, Chairman of Delegation of Tunisia, said efforts made at the Conference must be in line with the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration. He urged ensuring that the prerequisites for success in the post-2015 agenda were in place. Tunisia had toppled despotism and tyranny, and today looked forward to freedom and justice. His Government was working to create jobs for young people, raise the level investment, and devise a vision for the country based on sustainable development. That strategy would be put to the people during an international conference this year. He requested international support for those efforts and in support of local governments. It was also needed to increase exports, transfer technology and develop climate change policies. Also, redoubled global efforts were needed to address the roots of terrorism.

ARCANJO MARIA DO NASCIMENTO, Chairman of Delegation of Angola, associating with the Group of 77 and China, cited the shortfall in development financing as one reason the Millennium Development Goals had not been achieved. “The global partnership to provide the support to achieve the MDGs has failed to deliver,” he said. The gap in ODA disbursement had reached $167 billion in 2011 and widened further in 2012. It was a concern that the prospects for ODA pointed to medium-term stagnation. In addition, there appeared “no light at the end of the tunnel” as far as the Doha round of trade talks was concerned. The fulfilment of commitments to allocate 0.7 per cent of GNI to ODA should be the starting point of a renewed global partnership. South-South cooperation should remain free from externally imposed norms drawn from North-South assistance. It should not be used as a pretext to dilute existing aid commitments.

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