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Archived - Statement Prepared for the Development Committee of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund

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The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance for Canada,

on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Singapore, September 18, 2006


These meetings provide a valuable opportunity for us to reflect on our achievements and, more importantly, on areas where we need to redouble our efforts. We have spent much of this weekend discussing how to sustain and build momentum through our collective efforts to achieve concrete development results in support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Governance and Corruption

Accountability and effectiveness are key themes for discussion this weekend. We had very successful discussions on quota reform and improved surveillance yesterday at the International Monetary and Financial Committee, which will contribute to a more effective and representative International Monetary Fund (IMF). Within this committee, we have focused on how promoting good governance, including fighting corruption, and mutual accountability are essential to efforts to accelerate progress towards the MDGs. We know that aid is less effective in countries plagued by weak governance. While I think we have made good progress in recent months on this issue, significant challenges lie before us.

Ultimately, we need to recognize that only countries themselves-led by their own governments-can provide the leadership and ownership needed to strengthen governance. However, donors and international agencies can and should help with this process. Aid must be delivered in ways that support our partners' capacity to govern and promote accountability in the use of public resources.

The World Bank has demonstrated that it is a leader in governance and anti-corruption. We welcome the Bank's efforts since we met last spring to articulate a broad strategy to promote a more coherent, transparent and results-oriented approach. Going forward, we need to deepen our understanding of the challenges that weak governance and corruption pose for the development process and address more specifically how the Bank can meaningfully address these issues. As well, there remains a need for clear operational guidelines to better understand how decisions should be taken on World Bank support in situations where weak governance and corruption present real risks.

In countries where corruption is a challenge, we need to have clearer rules on the Bank's terms of engagement. We continue to urge the Bank to remain engaged even in countries where corruption represents a significant challenge, because without the Bank's efforts, there may be little progress forward. But the World Bank cannot tackle these issues on its own, and we look to continued progress in developing a common approach to tackling corruption, involving other donor partners as well as other multilateral development banks.

In effect, we all need to engage in the fight against corruption. International institutions must ensure that their in-house operations meet high integrity standards and that their interventions in member countries promote good governance. Developed countries must lead by example by trying to ensure that the operations of their governments and corporations are models of transparency and accountability.

Aid Effectiveness

Canada, Ireland and the Commonwealth Caribbean countries are strongly committed to working in partnership with others in an environment of mutual accountability to reach the MDGs by the 2015 target. Meeting these goals requires that, in addition to strengthening governance and accountability, developing countries manage their economies effectively and follow through on national poverty reduction strategies. For their part, donor countries must increase the effectiveness of their aid. Ensuring predictability of aid flows is critical to allowing developing partners to commit to essential reform and capacity-building measures. Developing countries also need to receive longer-term commitments to core areas of funding, especially for the provision of services to the poor.

We urge donors to reduce the aid management burden, particularly on the poorest and smallest states, in line with commitments under the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Progress on these issues is important to secure stronger results on the ground. The Bank should draw on its recent experience in Africa and continue to promote stronger donor alignment, harmonization and coordination. In this regard, we encourage the expansion of recent efforts by the World Bank to prepare Joint Assistance Strategies with other donors based on national development strategies, such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. And because the collection of accurate and timely statistics is critical to gaining an accurate understanding of progress achieved and the challenges that remain, I would reiterate my earlier suggestion that countries' statistical capacity be routinely appraised in the context of Country Assistance Strategies.

Investing in People

Today, there are 115 million children who have never entered school and another 130 million who will never complete primary school. Yet we know that investment in basic education is essential to achieve significant and sustainable results in poverty reduction. Canada believes that the international community has an important role to play in advancing efforts to achieve improvements in school enrolment as well as in primary school completion rates. This will require investments in bricks and mortar, in staff training and salaries, in teaching materials and in incentive schemes to encourage parents to enrol their sons and daughters.

Canada's investments in basic education in Africa have almost quadrupled since 2000, reaching $100 million annually by 2005. This has produced concrete results, contributing to more than 9 million additional enrolments in primary schools, with more than half of these places going to girls. We will continue to invest in education for African children, increasing our bilateral funding to $150 million a year over the next four years. Canada is also a strong supporter of the Education For All-Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI), which encourages donor and recipient countries to work in a spirit of partnership to achieve the education MDGs. Canada recently announced it will provide a $25-million contribution towards multilateral engagement with the EFA-FTI. This is in addition to the $46 million that Canada has committed through its bilateral aid program to the EFA.

More than 7 million people die annually from infectious diseases like pneumococcus, malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, mostly in poor countries. Compounding this loss of life is the economic burden that disease places on families, and the repercussions for national economic development. We have spent much of the past year exploring a number of innovative finance proposals to help address international development challenges, particularly those in global health. To this end, the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) pilot appears to us to be a particularly promising initiative. Canada is ready to contribute $100 million to support an AMC pilot project, which should be ready to launch by the end of this year, to develop vaccines. We urge donors to demonstrate support for an AMC pilot for a pneumococcus vaccine by providing the necessary financial commitments to ensure that we can launch this important project this year.

And in recognition that gender issues remain an area where more work is needed, we are encouraged by the World Bank's renewed attention and efforts to advance women's economic empowerment to achieve growth, poverty reduction and meet the MDGs. We believe that gender equality is an area in which the Bank has a comparative advantage and can provide strong leadership.

Renewing the Trade Agenda

The Doha Development Round was seen by many as an opportunity to further integrate developing countries into the multilateral trading systems. While we recognize the impasse, we continue to believe that a successful outcome to the Round would be the best way to realize the potential of trade as a tool for development. We stand ready to work with other World Trade Organization (WTO) members and the Director General of the WTO to find a way forward. In the meantime, we encourage all donors to meet their "Aid for Trade" commitments and support the continued strengthening of the Enhanced Integrated Framework as an effective collaborative mechanism for the identification, delivery and assessment of trade-related assistance. We also look to the World Bank and the IMF to continue their advocacy work on trade liberalization and to continue their support of furthering the Aid for Trade agenda.

Debt Reduction

The international development community has made great progress in debt reduction for the poorest countries. The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) became effective at the IMF in January 2006 and at the International Development Association (IDA) in July 2006. We have every expectation that it will shortly become effective at the African Development Fund (AfDF).

Canada and Ireland are strong supporters of the ongoing work to address unsustainable debt burdens in low-income countries. In this context, it is important that we ensure that the MDRI leads to increased development resources. To achieve this, international financial institutions must be fully compensated for the costs of the MDRI and funding must be additional. We are committed to maintaining the financing capacities of the IMF, IDA and the AfDF as these institutions implement the MDRI. Ireland is paying its IDA share of MDRI costs up front. Canada has already paid its IMF share of MDRI costs and will begin making its payments to IDA and the AfDF as planned.

A growing concern, however, is that significant debt reduction creates substantial new borrowing room in some countries, which if not managed carefully could rapidly be filled with unproductive new financing. This new financing could reverse recent efforts to maintain debt sustainability under the World Bank-IMF Debt Sustainability Framework (DSF) and result in a rapid re-accumulation of debt in poor countries. We believe that more can and should be done to break such a "lend-and-forgive" cycle and ensure long-term debt sustainability. The review of the DSF in the context of the IDA14 Mid-Term Review will be important to advance this issue. It will also be important for borrowers to improve their debt management capacity, which is an area where the World Bank can provide expertise. Creditors must also do their part. A coordinated approach by all creditors, based on the analysis underlying the DSF, could help mitigate the risk of excessive borrowing.

Fragile States

Canada welcomes the World Bank's ongoing support for fragile states, including in post-conflict situations. Canada is actively involved in assisting a number of fragile states, with large development assistance programs, for example, in Afghanistan and Haiti.

While it is clear that the Bank has made considerable progress in its involvement in fragile states over the past four years, more needs to be done. Canada is working with the Bank to set up a Fragile States Partnership and Knowledge Initiative to develop and strengthen knowledge about effective approaches in fragile states. One area for further work is the Bank's aid allocation system. While we support a performance-based allocation system to determine IDA aid volume, we believe that there is scope to refine the system to be more effective in responding to the special challenges of state fragility. In this area, the IDA14 Mid-Term Review provides an opportunity to make real progress as we prepare for IDA15.

While there is also scope to continue to improve the Bank's state-building, governance and capacity development work, the Bank provides real value added in this area. This area requires long-term engagement and sustained investments in order to achieve lasting results. The Bank's financing predictability through IDA and long-term focus have allowed it to take on a leadership role in this area.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) Partner Countries

We welcome the World Bank's recent evaluation of its role in IBRD partner countries. Bank engagement must be based on its comparative advantage, and poverty reduction must remain the focus of its efforts in these countries. In that vein, the Bank must continue to increase the effectiveness of its collaboration with other international players, including the IMF, bilateral donors and the private sector, in developing a comprehensive strategy to guide the Bank's involvement in these countries over the longer term.

As a measure of success, these countries should become less dependent on aid dollars over time and better able to attract private sector financing, including foreign direct investment (FDI). Currently, five emerging market economies account for 60 per cent of all FDI inflows into developing countries. The Bank should work to increase the number of recipients receiving significant FDI flows over the next decade.

Meeting the Needs of Small States

Efforts to advance the development agenda cannot overlook the particular challenges of small states, including those in the Caribbean. The international community, led by the World Bank, must play an enhanced role in assisting small states to position themselves for success in the global economy. Despite the strong global economic growth in recent years, the economic growth of small states has failed to keep pace with larger low- and middle-income countries. In some cases, this has reflected the faster than anticipated erosion of trade preferences. As a consequence, many of these economies are falling short of reaching the MDGs. To rectify this situation, there is a dire need for better analytical work on options for growth, competitiveness, economic diversification and international trade.

The continuing loss of critical skills in small states as a result of migration also needs to be addressed. Support for human resource development is crucial as these countries expand service exports and other areas where they are competitive. On the related issue of remittances, which are an important source of foreign exchange and capital for many small states, we encourage the Bank to continue its work with other international financial institutions and partner countries to better understand these arrangements and help facilitate these transfers.

The small island states of our constituency remain at risk of natural disasters. The Bank needs to continue to work with these countries and their partners to mitigate these risks. We continue to support the Bank's development of a Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility in the Caribbean and other small states, and call upon other donor governments and the private sector to join these efforts. A longer-term challenge is the transfer of existing and new technologies required for adaptation to new weather patterns, particularly in the key sectors relating to agriculture and water resource management. We strongly support the Bank's plan to expand analytical work to develop screening tools to assess the nature of climate risks to development projects, build the capacity of institutions and communities to better cope with the risk of natural disasters, and support the development of new and more innovative risk management tools.