|Sri Lanka on course to achieve MDGs by 2015|
|Monday, 29 September 2008 18:37|
Participating on behalf of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the interactive Round Table discussions segment of the high level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) held on the fringes of the UN General Assembly sessions in New York last Saturday (27 September 2008), Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rohitha Bogollagama said that Sri Lanka is on track to achieve the MDGs by 2015, which has been facilitated by re-structuring the country’s socio-economic fundamentals, in keeping with the aspirations of the people.
Speaking further, he emphasized that sustainable development should be viewed in the context of the people, as governments represent the people, and therefore, imposition of economic sanctions ought to be avoided as it is only the citizens of that country who would suffer the adverse consequences. The Minister, while associating himself with the sentiments that were expressed by the President of East Timor, who spoke earlier, urged the removal of sanctions on Cuba as a vital step for the betterment of its people. He stated that it is imperative to seek people-centric development to ensure that the people are the real beneficiaries of development programmes.
Referring to the economic pursuits of the Sri Lanka Government, Minister Bogollagama pointed out that free education had resulted in a 94% literacy rate and similarly, free health services have resulted in an average life expectancy of 74 years. Further, he referred to the fact that there are no major diseases in Sri Lanka and that malaria as an epidemic has been eradicated.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that 70% of Sri Lanka’s population is living in the rural areas and the Government is pursuing concerted action to empower the people, especially in areas affected by terrorism. In this context, he referred to the Government’s policy to eliminate terrorism in all its forms, as had been done in the East, with a view to empowering those people from that region, mainly through agricultural pursuits. This he said, would contribute towards greater food production, and thereby, leading to food security. Minister Bogollagama shared the position articulated by India of ensuring a pivotal role for the FAO on food security
Subsequently on the same day (27 September 2008), making an intervention at the meeting of G11 Foreign Ministers in New York, Foreign Minister Bogollagama called for Lower Middle Income countries such as Sri Lanka to work closely with other countries in this grouping, to address developmental challenges and vulnerability to external turbulence in the global markets. He observed that such action was imperative as this segment of countries is increasingly being marginalized on global platforms.
The Minister informed the Group that the Cabinet of Ministers in Sri Lanka had approved Sri Lanka becoming a signatory to the G11 Framework Agreement on Economic, Trade and Cultural Cooperation. He also welcomed the decision to hold a G11 Business Forum on the sidelines of the G11 Summit in May 2009. He envisaged that this Forum would be able to bring together, representatives of the private sector in the G11 countries to promote connectivity through the exchange of business delegations.
Minister Bogollagama also commended the Jordanian King’s initiative in establishing contacts with the G8. He emphasized that this dialogue should be focused on specific issues such as food security, transfer of technology, alternative sources of energy and other areas of primary interest to G11 members. He also proposed that this interaction between the G11 and the G8 be held annually. As the G11 is still in its formative stages, it was agreed that members should work closely to forge links that would be mutually beneficial at an economic level. The G11 agreed to re-convene in May 2009 at the Dead Sea in Jordan.
Sri Lanka Permanent Mission to the UN
29 September 2008