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DateLine Sunday, 4 May 2008





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Government Gazette

Lanka to be least affected -MDGs under pressure

Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region may not meet all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) due to gaps in several key areas according to a joint report by the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

However, experts said that Sri Lanka would be the least affected under the new global challenges in its human development efforts.

According to data released by the government, poverty in Sri Lanka has declined from 22 per cent to 15 per cent in this decade. This is a very creditable achievement, said Omar Noman, Millennium Development Goals Initiative (UNDP) Colombo, Sri Lanka.

While the report “A Future Within Reach 2008” does not go into detail of any country, it suggests that higher economic growth rates will help further reduction in poverty.

However, the region as a whole is facing pressures due to economic slowdown in the North America and rising food and oil prices.

This exerts pressure on the budget and balance of payments due to increased subsidies for food and more expensive imports.

This applies to most countries of the region, except for those which export food, such as Thailand and Vietnam or those who don’t need to import much oil or food, he said.

Historically, Sri Lanka has an excellent record in most of the MDGs.

The country has been a leader in human development and other countries of Asia and the Pacific view Sri Lanka as an example.

Despite the three pressures broadbased economic growth and targeted interventions in favour of the poor should sustain Sri Lanka’s human development, said Noman.

According to a media release the report, entitled A Future Within Reach 2008, was launched on April 29, at a high-level panel meeting on the MDGs, during the annual session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

It is the third regional report on MDGs produced by ESCAP, ADB and the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Millennium Development Goals Initiative team, based in Colombo.

The eight MDGs - which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 - form a blueprint agreed to by most countries and the world’s leading development institutions.

Building on previous regional updates, A Future Within Reach 2008 takes stock of significant MDG progress to date across Asia and the Pacific and highlights existing and potential challenges to their achievement.

“On the positive side, the region has an unparalleled singular record of freeing more than 350 million people from extreme poverty between 1990 and 2004,” said Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “But that’s just not enough, we cannot rest for a minute - the gaps cited in the report need to be filled and they need to be filled immediately.”

Currently, 641 million of the world’s poorest - nearly two-thirds of the global total - live in the Asia-Pacific region.

The report highlights the need for international organisations in the region to better coordinate their assistance to countries trying to make the MDGs a reality.

“Everyone involved - from all the agencies and funds of the United Nations and regional development entities to bilateral donors - needs to lift their game in this respect,” said Ms. Heyzer.

“It’s essential that development partners contribute according to their unique strengths, yet uphold the spirit, principle and practice of uniting to ‘deliver as one.’” The report outlines a “regional road map” that all development partners could use as a way to create synergies in their efforts to bring the MDGs to fruition.

Extra $25 billion a year is needed to help the poorest Asian countries achieve MDGs.

The financing gap on the MDGs remains huge. Helping the 14 least developed countries in Asia achieve the goals will need an extra $8 billion between now and 2015.

Enabling all 29 countries that receive support from ADB’s Asian Development Fund - which offers grants and loans at very low interest rates to Asia’s poorest nations - to achieve the MDGs, will require an additional $25 billion annually.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pledged to mobilise national leaders in a drive to reach the MDGs when they come to the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate in September.

In January, he said the world is at the “mid-point” of the campaign to end world poverty, set forth in the MDGs, and called for attention to the poorest of the world’s poor, known as the ‘bottom billion.’


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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