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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
H.E. DR. ALBERTO G. ROMULO
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Republic of the Philippine
G77 AND CHINA: THE MOVING FORCE BEHIND
THE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA OF THE UNITED NATIONS
29th Meeting of the G-77 Foreign Ministers
On the Implementation of the Development Agenda Following the
High-Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly
New York, 22 September 2005
The UN Development Agenda
I wish to congratulate Your Excellency for your sterling leadership of the Group of 77 and China, especially at this crucial time when our leaders have gathered in New York for the High Level Plenary Meeting in the General Assembly.
The High-Level Event witnessed not only the largest gathering of leaders. It also ushered in a new era for the United Nations: a UN that is vibrant, vigorous, a bastion of active multilateralism, and mankind’s biggest hope for poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
The Outcome Document that our leaders adopted last week, outlines the important objectives as well as some strategies that will allow us to achieve the ultimate goal we have set five years ago of halving poverty incidence by 2015 as embodied in the Millennium Development Goals.
The Philippines believes that the United Nations, as the Group of 77 and China has been emphasizing since the Group’s inception, should give importance to the development agenda. Development is the bedrock of peace, security and stability. Without development, our efforts to forging international peace and harmony will be put to naught.
Building Our Strategy
Our Group therefore needs to prioritize as well as strategize how we can harness the cooperation of our partners to further implement and achieve our avowed goals.
At this juncture, I wish to bring to the Group’s attention how we can move forward on an important issue that confronts many middle-income developing countries. This concerns the burgeoning debt problem and how to provide debt relief to affected countries.
The middle-income countries of today, will soon be the HIPCs of the future if this problem cannot be resolved head on. The debt problem of middle-income countries is all the more confounded by the soaring prices of oil and energy posing continued threat to the achievement of the internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Moving Beyond Debt
The Philippines therefore would like to propose the adoption of debt-for-equity swaps as innovative and creative means of financing for development in order to achieve the MDGs.
The key to the achievement of the MDGs in our respective countries lies in the availability of adequate resources to finance the development priorities we have outlined in our National Development Plans.
But because of the high price of oil and the limited financing resource available locally, we need the help and assistance of donor countries to give us reprieve in our debt servicing by channeling those vital resources to financing our development programs.
This is the essence of the debt-for-equity swaps that Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo proposed at the High Level Plenary Meeting.
The Philippines proposes the consideration of the adoption of a possible debt-reduction/debt-conversion scheme including “debt-for-equity” or debt-for-MDG project”. The scheme calls for the conversion of 50% of the debt service and/or principal value of the debt into equity for MDG projects of at least equal value with an income earning potential.
We are not asking for the cancellation of debt under this scheme. Debt-for-equity swap is rather a creative means to addressing the debt issue by allowing middle-income countries to channel their resources for debt-servicing to financing the MDG-based priorities.
The Need for Innovation
With innovative debt schemes, countries faced with staggering debt servicing would have adequate resources available for specific development projects outlined in their respective national development plans or strategies.
Debt for development projects can focus on such areas as: reforestation; mass housing; infrastructure projects; hospitals and healthcare; irrigation, post-harvest facilities and food production; schools, classrooms and information technology; clean water; electricity; eco-tourism; and wealth-creating projects such as reclamation and mining.
The Philippines would like to submit debt-for-equity swaps to donor countries as well as to international financial institutions in realizing debt relief for the middle-income countries.
The Philippines stands ready to submit a draft resolution in this regard. We would like to seek, therefore, the Group of 77 and China’s support and cooperation in making this a reality.
Migration and Development
The Philippines likewise recognizes the important linkages between international migration and development and the need to deal with this issue in a coordinated and coherent manner.
Since migration brings challenges as well as opportunities to countries of origin, destination and transit, there is a need to further enhance cooperation at the international level in order to manage this increasing phenomenon.
The increasing movement of peoples across borders also call for the need to formulate and adopt a comprehensive and effective international mechanism or framework for cooperation that would address its multidimensional aspects, particularly its politico-security, social, cultural and economic development dimensions.
Migration of peoples should be seen as a ‘win-win’ situation. We are conscious of the fact that migration brings benefits to sending states as well as to countries of origin. Migrants’ remittances constitute an economic resource that can propel and sustain economic growth and development in countries of origin.
For the recipient countries, migrant workers contributions are apparent in imparting their knowledge and skills as educators, artisans, builders, artists, etc., in enhancing the quality of life of their host countries.
The Philippines stands ready to cooperate with all countries in contributing towards the formulation of effective international mechanisms that would help ensure a smooth management of the migration phenomenon.
For us to succeed, the G-77 and China must work closely together.
The opportunity for the G-77 and China to be the main driving force behind the development agenda of the United Nations is now.
When the Philippines helped draft the United Nations Charter sixty years ago, the developed nations seriously outnumbered the developing nations. Yet the few developing nations that were with us in San Francisco succeed in introducing historic and radical provisions into the Charter -- the right to self-determination, self-government and independence.
We succeeded then when we were so few. We must succeed now that we are so many.
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