Opening Dinner of the Global Southern Africa International Dialogue 2008
FROM MASERU 2005 TO LANGKAWI 2007 TO LUSAKA 2008
Fellow Smart Partners,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by expressing my pleasure in being able to be here in Mulungushi today after the hosting of the Langkawi International Dialogue (LID) in August 2007. I wish to also express my appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Zambia for taking the honour to host the Global Smart Partnership Dialogue 2008 (GSAID 2008). Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has asked me to convey his deep regrets for not being able to attend the Dialogue this year. Nevertheless, I am here to represent him and to convey his greetings and well wishes for a successful Dialogue.
2. Our meeting here today is set against the backdrop of a series of global problems the sky-rocketing fuel and energy prices, soaring world-wide inflation, increase in food and transportation prices and general economic malaise across the continents. The Global 2008, thus, is a timely opportunity for us to address these problems. At the same time we must re-visit our priorities, re-evaluate our options and re-calibrate our strengths. It is, therefore, fortunate that the focus of the 2008 SAID is rearticulating the Smart Partnership approach through the idea of limitless opportunities within the framework of real partnership and cooperation that rose during the 1998 meeting in Namibia.
3. Having said that, we must nevertheless continue to focus the first and overriding priority of all developing countries which is poverty eradication. In order to address this serious issue, which is faced by many of our Commonwealth Countries, my Prime Minister, the Honourable Dato Seri Abdullah Badawi, aspirated the approach Poverty Eradication through Human Capital Development and Capacity Building during 2007 LID.
4. The Smart Partners and LID participants had a productive exchange of views and in-depth discussion on the issues and agreed on a holistic approach to develop human capital that emphasises on the development of knowledge, skills and intellectual capital, and promotes a work culture and mind-set that is creative, innovative and progressive, imbues with strong moral and ethical values. They also agreed to build capacity through the creation of the necessary infrastructure and policy environment conducive for social and economic development with the ultimate aim of eradicating poverty. At the end of the LID 2007, the participants resolved to address the issues of poverty eradication by implementing the strategic measures outlined in the LID 2007 Plan of Action on the Way Forward.
Excellencies, Fellow Smart Partners, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
5. I take this opportunity to invite you to share with us the progress that your country has made on any project undertaken or completed in the context of addressing the issue of poverty eradication through human capital development and capacity building.
6. Malaysia continues to undertake various measures to accomplish its long term commitment in eradicating poverty in the country. Various measures were implemented in consonant with the LID 2007 Plan of Action in achieving the set targets to eradicate poverty through human capital development and capacity building that has been agreed by the partner’s countries. As Malaysia had come a long way in the fight against poverty, most of the strategic measures put forward in the Plan of Action were already under implementation. Thus, concerted efforts were undertaken by the respective government agencies in the country in ensuring that each and every strategy is renewed and strengthened in order for it to remain relevant and effective.
7. As for enhancing the capacity of planners and policy makers through training and smart partnership, a series of capacity building initiatives with respect to poverty was conducted. In particular, an international workshop in Sharing Malaysia’s Best Practices in Eradicating Poverty with the theme Pro-poor Rural and Urban Development Policies and Programmes was held in November 2007 with participations from 20 Least Developed Countries of Asia and Africa. In addition, the International Poverty Conference: Poverty and Income Inequality in the 21st Century was held in December 2007. A Regional Policy Seminar with the theme Poverty Monitoring and Impact Evaluation was also held in June 2008 as part of the initiatives under the Poverty Initiatives and Data Analysis (PADI) of the East Asia region.
8. The present turmoil in the world as well as domestic economies has put great challenges to the Government efforts in the eradication of poverty. The reduction in the domestic petroleum subsidies in early June 2008 as well as the international food shortages led to the consequent hike in the Consumer’s Price Index (CPI). The poor and low income groups are the ones that are badly affected by the price increase. In order to ease the burden of the people, the Government has taken various immediate measures including strengthening the social safety net especially for the old age and the people with special needs. With the various short term adjustments in place, the Government is confident that the objectives to eradicate the incidence of hardcore poor and to half the general poverty to 2.8% by the end of 2010 are within reach.
9. If you may recall, the Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia has proposed a programme on Financial Inclusion Advisers (FIA) during the LID 2007. In partnership with the Commonwealth Partnership Technology Management (CPTM), the Central Bank of Malaysia has identified potential practitioners who could participate in the programme. Our host country Zambia has agreed to convene the first pilot project this October. We hope to also convene the second FIA programme at the end of this year or early next year. We have also identified several other Southern Africa countries and entities that keen to host the programme for their local microfinance sector. We believed that efforts to enhance financial inclusion in any economy will directly bring lower income groups into the economic mainstream and thus contribute to alleviating poverty and promoting economic development.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
10. Finally, I look forward to a fruitful discussion on the topic before us at Mulungushi. With that in mind, on behalf of my Prime Minister, the Honourable Dato Seri Abdullah Badawi, I would like to announce that Malaysia will be hosting the next Langkawi International Dialogue (LID) in 2010, and I would like to welcome you to Malaysia again in 2010.