Friday, September 26, 2008

PM Prachanda criticises int'l community for not doing enough to end world poverty

Prime Minister Pushpa Prachanda has said "making poverty history" will sound empty without a genuine support and cooperation from the developed countries, adding investment for development in the poorer countries is "an investment in the peace and stability of the world."

Addressing a Roundtable on Poverty and Hunger at the UN General Assembly high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in New York Thursday, PM Prachanda said despite the commitment of the international community to take on poverty, hunger, diseases and many of the development challenges confronting the world, "it is ironic that more than a billion people, the so-called "bottom billion", mostly in developing countries, are still trapped in conditions of grinding poverty with an income of less than a dollar a day."

He called this "unbecoming of the contemporary human civilization, which has so much of affluence and prosperity at its disposal."

PM Prachanda also rebuked the developed partners for providing only 0.28% of their GNP as development aid, as against the commitment to provide 0.7%, adding that development aid has declined in actual terms.

"Most of the least developed countries are still outside the debt relief initiatives," he said. "Under such conditions, the target of reducing poverty and hunger and meeting other MDGs will be very difficult."

Elaborating on Nepal's "mixed result" on the achievement of the MDGs, PM Prachanda said, "We are on track of achieving goals related to halving the poverty by 2015, achieving universal primary education, reducing under-five child mortality, and providing safe drinking water." He further said that despite internal conflict, the percentage of people living in poverty has been reduced to 31% and that the country has made significant progress in improving access to education and health services.

"But we have numerous challenges to address. The biggest challenge is effectively addressing mortality among newborns and reducing hunger among the children under five. We have to address the problem of inequality and exclusion, which is denying the distribution of fruits of development to the people, who often live in the periphery of the state and the economy."

He said the current government is therefore committed to put the people, who have been traditionally marginalised, at the centre of its development strategy and initiate collective interventions at various levels.

"We feel that MDGs on their own cannot be achieved by all and more specifically by the LDCs. We can meet them only with global political support, stronger partnerships and coordinated efforts of all. Our achievements, including in reducing poverty, are likely to be thwarted by the rising food and oil prices and threats of climate change," he said, adding that short term relief and long term measures are required to deal with them in a comprehensive manner.

PM Prachanda also said financing for development of the developing countries should not be an obstacle when there is so much political will around this Assembly.

"The situation we are facing demands visionary and strategic choice to be made globally. It is about time that this Assembly rose up to its challenge and adopted that strategic choice. After all, investment in development in the poorer countries is an investment in the peace and stability of the world," he added.

PM Prachanda, who is currently in New York to attend the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations, has been busy all this week meeting with world leaders. Especially his meeting with U.S President George W. Bush Monday night at a reception hosted in New York hogged national headlines.

He is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly later today

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