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Nepal Monitor: The National Online Journal

Empty Promise to End Poverty Not Engough: Nepal PM

Prachanda, in a statement in New York, calls for more than an empty commitment to end poverty.

Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda delivered a statement (Sept 25/08) at the UN General Assembly hight-level event on the Millennium Development Goals Round Table-- Poverty and Hunger. He stressed the need to meet the goals set by the world body on an equitable basis. "The commitment to “making poverty history” will sound empty without a genuine support and cooperation from the developed countries. " The following is the full text of the document.

Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
1. I would like to sincerely appreciate the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General for taking this timely initiative of hosting a high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals.

2. In 2000, the world leaders adopted goals and targets, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as the collective commitment of the international community to take on poverty, hunger, diseases and many of the development challenges confronting the world.

3. Despite such solemn pledge, it is ironic that more than a billion people, the so-called “bottom billion”, mostly in developing countries, are still trapped in conditions of grinding poverty with an income of less than a dollar a day. This is unbecoming of the contemporary human civilization, which has so much of affluence and prosperity at its disposal.

4. Let us acknowledge the stark reality, which has been pointed out by the UN Task Force in identifying the gaps in implementation of the goals. The developed partners have provided only 0.28% of their GNP as development aid up to this mid-point, as against the commitment to provide 0.7%. So far, only eight countries have met their commitment to make available 0.15% - 0.2% of the GNP to the least developed countries (LDCs). In fact, development aid has declined in actual terms. The Paris commitments for improving aid effectiveness remain largely unimplemented. The failure to conclude the “development round” of trade negotiations is disappointing. Preferential access to the products from least developed countries is eroding, despite the commitment in the WTO to allow access to 97% of their products. The pledged “aid for trade” initiative lacks operational clarity and very few countries have actually benefited from it. Most of the least developed countries are still outside the debt relief initiatives. Under such conditions, the target of reducing poverty and hunger and meeting other MDGs will be very difficult.

5. I agree with the Secretary General that the year 2008 should mark a turning point in progress towards the MDGs. I think this high-level event should be that turning point. I am confident that we can chart that course to achieving the MDGs in full, if we recommit ourselves to redirect our combined efforts and resources towards achieving them.

Mr. Chairman,
6. Nepal has a mixed result on the achievement of the MDGs. We are on track of achieving goals related to halving the poverty by 2015, achieving universal primary education, reducing under-five child mortality, and providing safe drinking water. Despite internal conflict, the percentage of people living in poverty has been reduced to 31%. Nepal has made significant progress in improving access to education and health services.

7. But we have numerous challenges to address. The biggest challenge is effectively addressing mortality among new borns and reducing hunger among the children under five. We have to address the problem of inequality and exclusion, which is denying the distribution of fruits of development to the people, who often live in the periphery of the state and the economy. The current government is therefore committed to put the people, who have been traditionally marginalized, at the centre of its development strategy and initiate collective interventions at various levels. As signatory to International health partnerships, we have prepared a national compact. With the support of the partners, we seek to intensify free health care and motivate health workforce to reach all including the marginalized groups.

Mr. Chairman,
8. We feel that MDGs on their own cannot be achieved by all and more specifically by the LDCs. We can meet them only with global political support, stronger partnerships and coordinated efforts of all. Our achievements, including in reducing poverty, are likely to be thwarted by the rising food and oil prices and threats of climate change. We need short term relief and long term measures to deal with them in a comprehensive manner.

9. We welcome the initiative of the Secretary General for establishing a Task Force under his leadership on the global food crisis. Similarly, we also welcome the recommendations of the World Food Summit held in Rome earlier this year. We hope some concrete action will be taken under these initiatives. Unless we invest systematically in the agriculture sector and develop it, the achievement of the MDGs will neither be possible nor sustainable.

10. It is alarming that the increasing use of bio-fuels has shifted the focus from crops for food to that for fuel and has triggered the rise in food prices. The artificial barriers such as agricultural subsidies are causing the food prices to be distorted globally. This must be corrected.

Mr. Chairman,
11. The commitment to “making poverty history” will sound empty without a genuine support and cooperation from the developed countries.

12. We think the review conference on the Financing for Development to be held in Doha later this year should be utilized as an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the cause of attaining MDGs through stronger support from developed countries. Financing for development should not be an obstacle when there is so much political will around this Assembly.

Mr. Chairman,
13. The situation we are facing demands visionary and strategic choice to be made globally. It is about time that this Assembly rose up to its challenge and adopted that strategic choice. After all, investment in development in the poorer countries is an investment in the peace and stability of the world. Our choice should be guided by this imperative. I think it is yet another opportunity for this Assembly to stand up to the challenge of poverty and hunger.

14. On behalf of the people and the Government of Nepal, I would like to pledge to work together in a spirit of partnership. In the same vein, I would like to urge our development partners for enhanced level of targeted cooperation for sustained socioeconomic development, for the reduction of poverty and for addressing all development challenges. Working together, we can effectively deal with the current challenges. We have to employ all our collective energy to attain our collective objectives, as only a short time is available for us to meet the MDGs.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Posted by Editor on September 26, 2008 3:47 PM