Dalli joins Commonwealth finance
ministers in Brunei for annual talks
- high level conference to focus on delivering basic
services to the poor
By David Lindsay
Maltese Finance Minister John Dalli yesterday joined more than 50 fellow
Commonwealth finance ministers in Brunei under heavy security surveillance
for the 37th Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting.
The meeting, which kicked off yesterday and wraps up tomorrow has placed
poverty and the state of the global economy high on the agenda and accordingly
carries the theme of 'Delivering Basic Services to the Poor'.
As is customary, the meeting is taking place the week
before the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the
The Commonwealth finance ministers are expected to discuss global economic
prospects and the means of increasing the flow of private investments
to develop commonwealth countries today. The ministers assembled, representing
a total population of 1.7 billion - 664 million of whom survive on less
than Lm1 per day - will also discuss the dismal outcome of the World
Trade Organisation meeting held in Cancun Mexico that ended in failure.
The ministers will also address issues relating to debt sustainability
under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).
The Commonwealth is made up of 54 sovereign states to achieve international
goals with particular emphasis on equality, trust and understanding.
In addition to that, the Commonwealth facilitates the advancement of
democracy, human rights and sustainable economic and social development
within its member countries and beyond.
Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon said yesterday, "The
delivery of basic services to poor people is a major challenge for almost
all of us. I hope that our meeting will enable ministers to examine
ways and means of improving delivery of these services.
"We also need to be open-minded about alternative ways of delivering
services and to ensure affordable access by all Commonwealth citizens.
This can best be done by involving the poor in decision-making."
Discussions today and tomorrow will focus on a number of wide-ranging
pertinent issues. One such issue of particular importance for Malta
is that of small states and their special economic considerations.
The Commonwealth is promoting increased competitiveness of small states
though assistance in export promotion and holds that small states should
be given special treatment when considered for graduation under the
UN Committee for Development Policy as this graduation results in the
removal of preferential market access.
The Commonwealth will also stress that small states should have a strengthened
representation at the WTO and that assistance should be provided to
small states to be able to negotiate and implement WTO agreements.
Due to the sensitive natures of such small states, priority should be
given to actions to mitigate shocks, stronger advocacy through research
on the special vulnerability of small states and attracting private
investment in small states.
See next weeks Financial and Business Times for a full analysis
of the discussions.