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

Statement of Mr. Sikandar Hayat Bosan,
Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock,
Governor of Pakistan

Chairman, Governing Council IFAD,
President, IFAD,
Fellow Governors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a matter of great honour and privilege for me to be over here in the environs of the eternal city of Rome and to be addressing this august gathering.

The theme, ‘Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Rural Investment and Enabling Policy' set for the 28th session of the Governing Council is a most appropriate selection for the present session. At the turn of the century, the first of the MDGs pledged was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger with the goal to reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. Five years earlier at the World Food Summit 1996, the member countries of the FAO had pledged to achieve food security for all and eradicate hunger in all countries with an immediate view to reducing the undernourished to half of its present level by no later than 2015. These were fairly modest goals given the issue at stake. Nevertheless, it is worth contemplating whether we have really moved any nearer to achieving these goals over the past 10 years since the World Food Summit or has the situation exacerbated since.

World food production according to the FAO is much more satisfactory this year. Access for millions of human beings, particularly in Africa and South Asia, remains constrained. Levels of poverty likewise remain high. Pakistan lies in the densely populated South Asian region where the level of poverty is extremely high. The incidence of poverty in 2001 was assessed at 32.1% of the population or 45 million persons with rural poverty being more pronounced at 38%. Though food production and availability in Pakistan has remained generally satisfactory over the past 5 years access to food had certainly been impaired by the high poverty levels.

A recent study conducted by the Centre For Research on Poverty Reduction and Income Distribution (CRPID) suggest that poverty in Pakistan is highly concentrated in a small range around the poverty line. The study characterized 63% of the poor in Pakistan on the borderline as transitory poor raising the confidence that the bulk of poverty in Pakistan can be addressed. The Poverty Reduction Strategy adopted in Pakistan encompasses the proven concept that economic growth is central to reducing poverty albeit such growth must be pro-poor. Agriculture which predominated the local economy by contributing a quarter of the national GDP, employing 40% of the labour force and serving as a mean of livelihood 67% of the population who reside in the rural areas as foreseen by this strategy as the vehicle for economic growth and poverty reduction. The strategy is towards making agriculture within the combination of farm and non farm activities more paying and supporting those depending on it for livelihood. Strong economic growth, between 5 and 6 percent per annum and high level of spending on the social sector and poverty related programmes over the last 5 years has started a process of reducing poverty. A recent sample survey by the Federal Bureau of Statistics has indicated a decline of 4.2 percentage points in the poverty level with both urban and rural areas displaying significant decline. Other social indicators and living conditions also exhibit improvements with a marked improvement in living conditions transpiring from the Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2004. The number of households living in 2 to 4 rooms have increased significantly and the number using electricity as a source of lighting and those using gas as a cooking fuel also display marked increase. A 15% increase in gross enrolment each at the primary and secondary school level has also been registered.

These are encouraging signs. Yet, this is a beginning and a lot more has to be done to consolidate and sustain achievements. The Government of Pakistan is aware of these realities. It however stands committed to the goal of alleviation of poverty and hunger in the international community and with international financial institutions who have valuably supported it in the past in the pursuit of these goals.

Over arching reason for rampant hunger and malnutrition is not just availability of food but also of access to food. Large segments of populations within the least Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDC) and also many middle income countries are incapacitated in their access to food on account of high poverty rates and income inequalities. Poverty has many dimensions. The poor have not only low incomes, but also lack access to basic needs such as education, health, clean drinking water and poor sanitation. The latter undermines their capabilities, limits their opportunities to secure employment, results in their social exclusion and exposes them to exogenous shocks. In most LDIFCs the vicious cycle of poverty is accentuated by the exclusion of the most vulnerable from the decision making process.

There is awareness in the LDIFCs that causes of hunger and poverty have to be addressed in their totality. Most of them also have the political will albeit, lacking the capability to do so. The factors underlying poverty and hunger in the LDIFCs are both internal and external. Poor economic endowment and lack of capacity to address issues are compounded by adverse terms of trade and restrained access for their products in the international markets. Availability of international assistance is far below the 1% level of GDP which the industrialised economies had undertaken to provide. The terms of assistance are often harsh and difficult to implement within the not so conducive environment of these countries.

The July 2004 package in the WTO negotiations has raised hopes for achieving an equitable international trade order. A greater magnanimity needs to be shown by the strong in favour of the not so strong to ensure equal access and opportunity fro products from the latter block in global markets and thereby help them in maintaining their self esteem, ensuring their sustained economic development and achieving the goals and objectives of alleviating hunger and poverty. The availability of assistance and its terms of delivery also need a similar open mind approach. We in Pakistan feel encouraged that with the emerging global outlook amongst all members of the international polity, achieving such objectives is quite within reach and members of the world community would not be found wanting in reaching such consensus. The recent world effort to help in the Tsunami disaster instils such hope.

The many natural and man-made disasters and disturbances over the past decade or so have caused sad losses of human life, increased human misery and placed huge populations in a struggle for survival. While we compliment the World Food Program for its unparallel efforts to assist in such disasters and adverse situations the fact of WFP's annual budget being in excess of US$ 6 billion does not augur a happy situation. The food aid is important but we the members of the world community need to apply ourselves to finding a solution whereby the need for such aid would be eliminated.

It is only institutions like IFAD whose mandate makes it possible to access the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable with its assistance. Yet, IFAD's resources per year of the 6th Replenishment cycle were less than US$ 190 million per year. The Fund's proposed lending program of US$ 450 million for 2005 constitutes merely a drop in the ocean. Asia, home to 2/3rd of the world's population and on a pro-rata basis a singular ratio of it's poor cannot even by a wide margin be helped in alleviating hunger and poverty in its regions with amounts of the level of US$ 140 million proposed for the Asia and Pacific region in the Program of Work 2005. The Governing Council at its current session is set to establish negotiations for the 7th Replenishment. Pakistan would like to call on all member states particularly those member states who have stringer economies, to come forth in supporting IFAD wit several times over resources than the US$ 560 million level of the 6th Replenishment.

The Performance Based Assessment System (PBAS) being evolved in pursuance of the decision of the Governing Council on the 6th Replenishment of IFAD resources in February 2003 per se seems as an appropriate policy approach. There however arises some concern that countries and populations which are most in need of IFAD's assistance that suffer on account of capability and capacity to respond to such a system may become the victims of this system by being deprived of the most valuable support of IFAD projects for them. We in Pakistan had in reviewing the PBAS for Pakistan asked to hold back the results and conduct the exercise afresh. We had commented to the IFAD delegation on the PBAS document during their visit to Pakistan in October 2004 though in principle the PBAS was a good concept yet its effective and fair use would depend on several factors (a) availability of relevant data (b) objective criterion of measuring some dimensions such as governance; and (c) capable and experienced personnel to carry out the performance based evaluation. We had noted that furthermore the relative weight-age proposed – 30% for broad framework and 30% for IFAD project portfolio – could be controversial as some comments received from IFAD Board Members indicate. The proposed system needs to be more circumspectly reviewed and modified to ensure against such negative effects.

Mr. Chairman

The delegation of Pakistan would like to avail this opportunity to endorse the proposed administrative budget for 2005. We would also like to support the proposal for special expenditure for IFAD's new headquarters.

In the end I would like to thank all delegates and staff members for their patient listening to our countries statement and to reassure IFAD about Pakistan's continued commitment and support to the organization.

Thank you

May I conclude by congratulating Mr. Bage on his re-election. The General Assembly has come out with a clear verdict in his favour. This is most reassuring. But may I submit that this endorsement also brings with it a higher level of expectations. I have no doubt President Bage will rise to the occasion and lead IFAD to meet the hopes and aspirations of the more than one billion less fortunate of our brethren, who are the only reason, the only justification for IFADs existence. I must also compliment our friend from Indonesia - for running a dignified campaign, for accepting the election results with grace, and for raising some pertinent issues regarding the role of IFAD.