His Excellency Ambassador Raymond Wolfe,
Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations,
during the Review of Chapter 1 of the Monterrey Consensus,
14th February 2008
My delegation welcomes the opportunity to participate in this meeting to review Chapter 1 of the Monterrey Consensus on “Mobilising domestic financial resources for development”, the first of a series to be held over the next few months. You can rely on the full cooperation and support of my delegation in this important undertaking. Jamaica aligns itself with the Statement delivered by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the G77 and China. However, I wish to make a few brief remarks in my national capacity.
We welcome this review process which provides us with a useful platform to assess progress made since the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey in 2002 as we prepare for the follow-up Conference which is scheduled to be held in Doha, Qatar later this year. The Review Conference is particularly significant as it is being held at the mid-point to the 2015 benchmark for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There is no denying the nexus between Financing for Development and the achievement of the MDGs. Unless significant progress is made on ALL the elements of the Monterrey Consensus, it is difficult to imagine how developing countries, particularly middle-income countries like Jamaica will be able to fully achieve the MDGs.
We have just emerged from a long debate on climate change during which developing countries like Jamaica enunciated clearly the challenges posed by this phenomenon to the achievement of our development targets. Similarly, the challenges posed by the inaction of our developed partners on various aspects of the Monterrey consensus to our development agendas should continue to be firmly articulated. Within this context, let me underscore the need for developed countries to complement the efforts of the South by meeting agreed targets laid out in the Monterrey Consensus.
Let me emphasise that efforts at the domestic and global levels are not only inextricably linked, but also mutually reinforcing. Whilst we recognize that each country has primary responsibility for its own development and therefore the sovereign right to introduce policies and measures to enhance economic growth and development, an enabling international environment provides a crucial backdrop for the effective functioning of domestic economies.
Against this background, it is essential that developing countries be allowed sufficient “policy space” to design strategies that are commensurate with their national circumstances, thus further reinforcing the established fact that “no one size fits all”.
In the interest of time, I will just outline briefly some of the strategies that my Government has been pursuing in an effort to mobilise domestic financial resources. The main impetus for economic growth in my country is our tourism, agriculture and service sectors as well as the bauxite/alumina industry. Since the 1990s, tourism has become our main foreign exchange earner.
To supplement these sources of revenue, Jamaica has introduced a number of measures including widening the tax net and is currently exploring ways to combat tax evasion. Having experienced a major financial meltdown in the 1990s during which many of our nationals lost life savings, we have vigorously instituted a regulatory framework to protect domestic savings to avoid any such recurrence in the future.
In recognition of the pivotal role that human resource development plays in creating and harnessing domestic wealth, the Government has been directing much of its attention to early childhood education and other key areas of the education sector.
Notwithstanding these strides, Messrs. Co-facilitators, Jamaica confronts a number of challenges, of which I shall mention two. Jamaica, like many other developing countries, is faced with a heavy debt burden which compels us to divert much of our resources to debt servicing. Of every dollar we spend, 50.97 cents goes to servicing debt. We have not benefited as expected from globalization and trade liberalization given our limited level and scope of competitiveness. At the same time, we are losing ground in our domestic market to foreign competition.
This further reinforces the point I made earlier that conditions in the international environment largely influence and determine the domestic situations. They are mutually reinforcing. Messrs Co-facilitators, unless commitments made at Monterrey are faithfully implemented, the entire Monterrey Consensus could be rendered meaningless. To my developed partners, please note that the ball is in your court!
I thank you Messrs. Co-facilitators.