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Statement by Cameroon to the Twenty-Eighth Session of the IFAD Governing Council

General Statement by the Head of the Cameroon Delegation on the Occasion of the Twenty Eighth Session of the Governing Council of the International Fund For Agricultural Development

Mr. Chairman of the Governing Council,
Mr. President of IFAD,
Distinguished Governors and Delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

To start, I would like to express the most sincere heart feelings of my government to the peoples and governments affected by the December 26, 2004 tragedy of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. We remain very respectful of the international solidarity manifested by the world community. It is a true revelation and testimony of the capabilities of the international community to achieve substantial relief and development goals when there is a will.

Our delegation is once again pleased to take the floor on this occasion of the 28th session of the Governing Council of our institution. This year's theme: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Rural Investment and Enabling Policy is very timely as the international agenda is considering assessing the Millennium Development Goals within the present biennium 2005-2006. The Millennium Project Report has just been launched, the ECOSOC High Level Segment session this year will be dwelling on the review of progress towards the goals contained in the Millennium Declaration, the G8 summit in September 2005 will certainly discuss development assistance, in Hong Kong in December 2005, the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting will report on the progress of the current Doha round of trade liberalization talks and the FAO Council in 2006 will focus on the mid-term review of the global commitment of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

Mr. Chairman,

The Brussels Declaration pertaining to the Plan of Action for Developing Countries for the decade 2001-2010 recognizes that in order to achieve the target of "substantial progress toward halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger by 2015," Developing Countries will have to attain GDP growth rates of at least 7 per cent per annum and increase the ratio of investment to GDP to 25 per cent. The true reality of the situation is that most of the Developing Countries are undergoing structural adjustments programmes, which reduce their efforts to invest in productive sectors, thus making the benchmark almost unlikely to be achieved.

Another element that hampers sustained economic growth in many developing countries is the burden of the heavy external debt and we wish to applaud the commitment of IFAD to participate in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, particularly in Africa and we seize this opportunity to call the international finance community to work with countries towards achieving the completion point in view of securing substantive resources that could be helpful to promote their development; but also and above all, support the design and implement of poverty reduction policies and programmes such the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). My country Cameroon is in this situation. Also, there should be a higher commitment of the Finance Institutions such as IFAD to increase their volumes of grants and highly concessional resources as against ordinary loans. The Executive Board of IFAD has recently enlarged the powers of the President to approve country grants and higher amounts of grants. As a developing country, we regard this as a positive step towards ensuring readily available funds for countries to prepare enabling development policies and programmes.

The twenty seventh session of the Governing Council last year discussed lengthily the issue of trade and rural development. It is paramount to ensure international fair-trade as a means to help developing countries to diversify their sources of revenues.

There is no doubt, whatsoever, that free market access to developing countries exports, removal of tariffs, non-tariff and technical barriers especially for agricultural products, elimination of subsidies, and other trade distorting measures will enhance dialogue amongst countries and operate a decisive boost to the economies of developing countries. It is therefore essential that countries arrive at a positive conclusion of the negotiations that are presently taking place under the auspices of the World Trade Organization.

There is clear evidence today that the international community has failed to fulfill its commitment renewed at Monterrey to meet the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) target. The Millennium Project Report, a three-year study headed by Jeffrey Sachs, the US economist, says that with enough money and co-ordination, the Millennium Development Goals are achievable. It notes that aid needs not destabilize economies if enough of it goes on increasing investment and supply capacity. And it points at the policy frameworks that already exist for determining priorities and assessing which countries are suitable for large increases in spending. At this point, there is a need to increase productive capacity in developing countries by adjusting the amount of ODA to match the development needs of developing countries.

It is fair and just to recognize efforts made by some countries, especially the Nordic countries in meeting and superseding the ODA target of 0.7 percent of their GDP. The latest available figures show that the percentage of United States income going to poor countries is: 0.15 percent, Japan: 0.2 percent, Britain: 0.34 percent, France: 0.41 percent, Denmark and the Netherlands: 0.7 percent, Norway and Sweden: 0.92 percent and 0.79 percent respectively. We also commend the commitment of some countries to increase their ODA and equally have regards and expectations on initiatives such as The United Kingdom commission on Africa set up by British Prime Minister and the Millennium Challenge Account launched at the Monterey summit meeting on poverty in 2002, which is supposed to increase the United States' assistance to poor countries that are committed to policies promoting development.

Mr. Chairman,

There is today on the one hand, a fast growing concern for the enhancement of good governance, democracy, decision-making decentralization process, rights-based approach and the fight against corruption in most of the developing countries. There is no reason for these countries to shy away from these legitimate concerns, but what shall be reminded of is that none of these could be applied overnight, but merit continuous attention and support from the international community. On the other hand the world is continuing to spend more on arms and defense at the expense of development. This shows a real contradiction between words and acts.

While recognizing that the international solidarity and generosity manifested towards the Indian Ocean tsunami victims is vital for the relief and reconstruction of affected countries, there is enough ground for concern that this may divert effort from the world's poorest countries, especially in Africa, suffering their own "tsunamis" (malaria, hunger, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, droughts, locust invasions, wars etc.) on a daily basis. To summarize, our view is that now, more than ever, world leaders need to apply themselves to doubling aid, as well as giving debt relief and reforming unfair trade rules while closely supporting policies and programmes geared towards poverty reduction such as PRSPs. Failing to take these achievable steps, there will be no chance of meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Mr. Chairman,

Anticipating that the negotiations for the Seventh Replenishment of IFAD resources will be launched at this session of the Council, permit me to echo the sentiment of most developing countries that the actual status of resources does not ensure an acceptable level of programmes and projects financing, nor is it able to support the implementation of essential policy tools recently developed or under preparation, such as the Field Presence Programme, the Private sector development policy, the Rural Enterprise Policy, the Rural Finance Policy, the Performance Based Allocation System etc. At the sixth replenishment, countries committed themselves to increase their contributions to IFAD resources. If this were followed up systematically as it was the case for my country that increased its contribution by 25%, the status of the resources of our institution would have been higher. IFAD remains a very small institution in terms of resource mobilization, but its niche, targeting the poorest of the poor makes it unique and this uniqueness shall be preserved.

If I recall our statement during the twenty-seventh session in 2004, we cautioned the management of IFAD on the possible perverse effects the implementation of a Performance Based Allocation System, which does not take into consideration the small nature and the multilateral orientation of the organization as well as its target group, will have on the activities of IFAD and its relationship with its member nations. Today, we continue to be skeptical about the actual design of the PBAS. If we do not remain vigilant, this may be a "delayed-action killer" of the organization.

Mr. Chairman,

Our expectations on the findings of the Independent External Evaluation of IFAD are very high. The draft final report has just been released and we are looking forward to its examination within the approved framework in the context of the Executive Board deliberations, but in the meantime, IFAD shall consider drawing lessons from that Independent External Evaluation.

Last year, IFAD signed an agreement of collaboration with the NEPAD, but as at now this agreement has not been materialized in concrete terms. We therefore encourage IFAD to explore the most convenient avenues to implement the agreement. The experience of the African Development Bank (ADB) Group and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) having agreed to collaborate in the implementation of identified 15 NEPAD projects that will serve as the basis of their 2005 joint work programme, could be used as a reference to foster action.

Thank you.