Financing for development a critical issue for G-77 countries

UNITED NATIONS, May - Developing nations strongly believe that financing for development is the most critical and core issue in the quest for evolving dynamic international cooperation for development, the chairman of the Group of 77 told a seminar here.

Speaking on behalf of 132 developing nations, Ambassador Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia said that all of the outcomes of all the major international summits and conferences have explicitly and implicitly addressed and highlighted the indispensability of financial resources for development.

“The reviews undertaken on those outcomes highlight that the major factor for not implementing effectively the recommendations of those outcomes have largely related to deficient actions on financial resources for development,” he added.

Addressing a one-day seminar on ‘’Perspectives from the South on Financing for Development in the Globalisation Process,’’ Wibisono said net transfer of resources to developing countries have averaged less than one percent of their gross domestic product (GDP).

The seminar, which was sponsored by the Group of 77 in cooperation with the Rome-based Society for International Development (SID), was attended by Third World diplomats, senior U.N. officials and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Wibisono said the demands of development are such that there must be an injection of new resources through official development assistance (ODA). But he regretted that ODA itself has declined: from 58.9 billion dollars in 1995 to 55.1 billion dollars in 1996.

‘’This declining trend continued unabated in 1997,’’ he noted, adding that the decrease has been in the region of about 4.0 percent in real terms.

Wibisono also said that although private financial flows to developing countries have increased in recent years, they have remained uneven and lopsided. Only few countries have accounted for more than three-quarters of the total flow in 1996 and 1997.

‘’Obviously, it is very difficult to developing countries, to attract these private flows on any substantial scale, bearing in mind their extremely difficult socio-economic conditions and structural constraints,’’ he added.

He also warned that globalisation and liberalisation are threatening to marginalise the world’s poorer nations.

‘’Many developing countries, particularly in Africa, have not been able to attract any significant amounts of foreign investment while their debt burden has increased and external assistance diminished,’’ he added.

Wibisono said that economic cooperation in the new era of globalisation and liberalisation has to be on new terms and conditions.

‘’When all is said and done, the fact remains there must be a flow of resources from the developed towards the developing countries. Recycling of existing resources is not the answer,’’ he said.

Roberto Savio, director-general of SID, said globalisation refers to a new form of global and national governance which gives precedence to organisations monitoring and promoting neo-liberal policies such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over other multilateral organisations such as the United Nations. It also subordinates national politics to the international economy.

Savio pointed out that concepts such as ‘’social justice, solidarity, welfare and development’’ are disappearing from the political lexicon of the North. The new political jargon from the North, he said, includes ‘’efficiency, effectiveness and markets.’’

The new North-South dialogue, he added, should go far beyond official development assistance (ODA) and financial flows.

‘’If development (in the ideological sense) remains first and foremost a project of the South, we may ask to what extent the new institutional arrangements for globalisation are responsive to Southern concerns,?’’ he asked.

Under the development regime, he said, ODA was the central component of North-South relations for development. But under the globalisaton regime, ODA becomes a secondary component which merely complements other financial and trade arrangements.

‘’There is therefore a risk that ODA becomes a sort of an international safety net, more geared to ensuring survival than to promote development processes,’’ he added.

James Gustave Speth, Administrator of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), pointed out that foreign direct investment (FDI), although massive, has largely bypassed low-income countries. About 90 percent of FDI going to the developing world today goes to middle income countries and to China, he said.

‘’Most of the developing world is benefiting only marginally from this crucial aspect of globalisation. One of our roles in development cooperation, therefore, is to help developing countries attract FDI, both direct and portfolio,’’ Speth said.

A central element of development cooperation, where UNDP has been taking a lead role, is the eradication of poverty. ‘’The poor are not in the modern market, neither as producers nor as consumers,’’ he said.

Speth said the eradication of poverty would increase the size of the global market, it would creat incentives for the expansion of production and of consumption.

‘’The importance of bringing the poor to market, and of eliminating poverty by achieving bottom-up growth, is beginning to be recognised by private enterprise, by those enterprises driving globalisation,’’ he added.

Speth also said that by its very definition, globalisation calls for multilateral solidarity. Developing countries cannot effectively take advantage of globalisation individually. ‘’They must pool resources, link up markets, and exchange valuable lessons in management and technology.’’