Your Excellency, Mehmet Ali Sahin, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey
Your Excellency, Anders Johnsson, Secretary General of IPU
Honourable Members of Parliament
Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am grateful for this opportunity to address this particular session of the Forum which focuses on giving “A hard look at the LDCs today: progress and setbacks, and their political underpinnings”.The importance of this session cannot be overemphasised. As the process of developing a newprogramme of action for the next development decade for LDCs is now at its peak, an assessment of the implementation of the Brussels Programme, identification of lessons learnt, as well as outstanding and new-and-emerging challenges is critical.
The Brussels Programme of Action for the least developed countries adopted in 2001 had the objective of reducing extreme poverty and accelerating sustained economic growth and sustainable development in LDCs, ending their marginalization and enabling them to integrate beneficially into the global economy. My synopsis today of an assessment of the Brussels Programme of Action is based on the information derived from a synthesis of the national reports; regional reviews; proceedings of pre-conference thematic events; and the Secretary General’s report on the 10 year appraisal of the Brussels Programme of Action. These analyses show that the LDCs have made considerable progress in implementing their obligations than in the previous decade, although there are wide variations among individual LDCs. During the period 2001 to 2010, the LDCs, as a group, experienced economic growth of about 6 per cent per year on average. The gross capital formation increased in most LDCs. LDCs made some progress towards reaching some of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals as evidenced by the steady improvement in primary education, access to clean water and some gender equality indictors since 1990. They also made progress in reducing inflation rates and narrowing fiscal deficits.
LDCs have made some progress towards good governance especially with respect to efforts to embed and institutionalize democratic governance in their own processes and with respect to empowerment of women. In this context I would like to thank LDC parliaments for this notable progress.
The development partners also made substantial efforts to deliver on their obligations. The LDCs have experienced decreases in debt service payments as a result of debt relief delivered under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and the Multilateral DebtRelief Initiative. Official development assistance in volume terms increased significantly, though aid as a percentage of donors’ gross national income to LDCs remains far below the 0.15-0.20 per cent target set by the Brussels Programme of Action. In the area of trade, LDCs benefited from a number of preferential trading schemes, including duty-free quota-free treatment, everything-but-arms, and AGOA. However their exports are hampered by market entry barriers particularly restrictive rules of origin and non tariff and standards related measures taken in their major markets and supply-side constraints. Foreign Direct Investment flows to LDCs increased by record levels though it was targeted mostly to extractive industries.
However despite these positive developments in LDCs, most of the LDCs have not met all goals and targets of the Brussels Programme of Action. Poverty in LDCs is still severe, persistent and widespread, and the burden of hunger and disease is still heavy. Around 53 per cent of the entire LDC population of 880 million is living in extreme poverty. The huge number of youth power entering into the labour market at an annual growth rate of 2.6 per cent per year is a major challenge as the number of unemployment and underemployment has been on the rise. LDCs have not been able to generate sufficient productive employment and decent work to meet the needs of the labour market each year.
Furthermore economic growth has not been accompanied by structural transformation and economic diversification. LDCs’ productive capacities remain weak due to lack of financial resources, poor infrastructure, and lack of technological innovation and adaptation and of entrepreneurship development, among others. As a result, LDCs continue to be vulnerable to trade shocks due to commodity price volatility and other external shocks and instead of being meaningfully integrated into the global economy, they have now become even further marginalized.
It is therefore clear that the traditional challenges faced by LDCs continue to persist and continue to jeopardize their efforts to improve the quality of life of their people. These traditional challenges are now exacerbated by emerging multiple global challenges that include rising food and fuel prices, economic and financial crises and climate change. As we begin the new development decade, we have roughly the same number of LDCs that began the journey in 2001. Only two countries, Cape Verde, and Maldives have graduated from the group during this last decade. Hence it is important that an ambitious and results-oriented New Programme of Action is adopted that can truly make a positive difference.
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
Allow me at this juncture to briefly highlight some major lessons learnt in implementing the Brussels Programme of Action indicating where relevant the potential role of parliaments from LDCs and non LDCs.
First - the critical role of a committed “developmental State” is necessary. The crises have clearly shown that there should be an enhanced role of a developmental, proactive and enabling state, both for the effective functioning of the market and for delivering public goods. LDC parliaments are a key component of this capable state.
Second - The New Programme of Action needs to be integrated more coherently into the national development strategies and sectoral plans in order to foster country ownership, effective implementation, monitoring and review of the New Programme of Action. This requires that the parliamentarians as the elected representatives of all groups of the population, as the legislators and approvers of the national budget be fully engaged in the process.
Third - The regional reviews and relevant pre-conference events underscored the need to qualitatively and quantitatively scale up resources and capacity to support the implementation of the Programme of Action. In this respect domestic resource mobilization is crucial and LDC parliaments can play a major role in helping design and implement policies that can foster domestic resource mobilization.
Fourth - Greater accountability in our commitments, partnerships, and in our actions. The LDCs must take full ownership and show excellence in good development governance in order to facilitate endogenous generation of inclusive growth that is sustainable and leads to accelerated poverty reduction. Parliaments are the pillars of good governance. I therefore call upon LDC parliaments to strengthen your oversight role so as to ensure transparency and the achievement of good governance required for the successful implementation of the New Programme of Action.
Fifth - It has become very clear that governance at the national and global level is closely interlinked. Greater accountability is also required from development partners to fulfil their commitments on Official Development Assistance, trade, debt relief, Foreign Direct Investment and technology transfer. Parliaments from developed countries can play a major role to mobilize resources, market access and technical assistance to support LDCs to implement, review and evaluate the new Programme of Action. They can also provide support through enhanced partnership to strengthen the capacity of LDC parliaments to be more active in implementing the New Programme of Action.
Sixth - LDCs need to be provided with adequate voice and representation in the international governance decision making systems and processes including financial, monitoring, trade, climate change, technology and others. I call on parliaments that are strategically placed to find ways of assisting LDCs on this issue.
Finally - The South-South cooperation has become a key market for LDC exports and source of development assistance and FDI. It is important that parliaments from these countries play a critical role to promote their countries’ support to LDCs in the new development decade.
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
In conclusion, having highlighted this retrospective but also forwarding looking account of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action, I call upon this Forum to be creative but also practical in strategizing how LDC and non LDC parliaments can strengthen their role in implementing the New Programme of Action.
I thank you for your kind attention.