Friday, 25 September 2015 13:49
Informal Briefing by UNDP/OECD on SIDS and ODA
H.E. Mr Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives to the UN
New York, 25 September 2015
Excellencies, dear Colleagues and Friends,
This is an opportune moment for us to sit together and discuss development financing. We just adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda is highly ambitious and those ambitions can only be realised through the realisation of adequate, predictable means of implementation.
I don’t think I need to emphasise the particular challenges that SIDS face in attaining sustainable development. They have been well articulated by the members of AOSIS, throughout the negotiation process, and iterated and reiterated in numerous outcome documents, including the 2030 Agenda, and the Addis Ababa Action Accord. However, there still seems to be a lack of understanding on the financing needs faced by SIDS.
We know that ensuring development gains are spread across our population, one of the key priorities must be the provision of necessary infrastructure: this means schools, hospitals, roads, harbours, ports and so on. Now for countries that are non-SIDS this is a challenge. But for SIDS, with our small populations, spread across large expanses of area, mostly across great expanses of water, this challenge is much more larger. In the Maldives for example, people live in 200 separate islands: but the Government is obliged to provide basic services, establish administrative services and provide basic protection. This means very high costs per capita associated with the delivery of basic amenities, which would perhaps call for higher tax collection and seek more sources of revenue generation, but is not feasible in SIDS due to our small tax base as well as low economic base.
And that’s when we run into our next challenge: access to development financing. SIDS are diverse. Most of us are Middle Income Countries. And in multilateral speak, this means limited access to development financing at concessional rates, as we are no longer a priority, and do not enjoy preferential access to markets. Many SIDS also face high debt burdens. The high cost of service delivery and sustaining our development gains means we have to borrow more, at higher rates. This adds to our debt burden, which in turn impacts our ability to borrow. And looming large is the reality that all this development effort might just be wiped out in mere seconds due to a disaster: as we have witnessed in several SIDS even this year.
Undoubtedly, how we measure development must be changed: this is an argument SIDS have been making consistently. But equally importantly, how we measure the need for development financing must be changed as well. The challenges we SIDS face may be the same as anyone else, but our particular challenges means that it is more challenging for us to deal with them. And this is where we ask for partnership: Partnerships that are based on mutual trust, mutual benefit and mutual respect. And therefore, we value this initiative and hope to see positive and fruitful results.
Invest Maldives, the government agency entrusted with promoting, licensing and registering foreign investments in the country, is the first port of call for all foreigners keen to invest in the Maldives.