Statement by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Latheef, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations, after the adoption of draft resolution A/60/L.21 “Deferral of the smooth transition period for the graduation of Maldives from the list of least developed countries”, at the plenary of the United Nations General Assembly -30 November 2005
The unanimous adoption of draft resolution A/60/L.21 on the “Deferral of the smooth transition period for the graduation of Maldives from the list of least developed countries” not only gives hope and encouragement to my country alone, but it also demonstrates the unwavering commitment of the international community to truly ensure smooth transition for the graduating countries so that their development plans and projects will not be interrupted due to graduation. This decision has also given us the confidence that the international community will stand by us and render whatever assistance as may be necessary to restore the damages caused by the tsunami to the Maldives and to move ahead with the development process.
Allow me to take this opportunity, on behalf of my country to extend our sincere appreciation to the entire international community for the understanding they have exercised and the support they have extended to us in the formulation and adoption of this resolution unanimously. With particular gratitude I reiterate our heartfelt appreciation to the members of the Group of 77 and China, its Chair in distinction, for the solidarity and the unqualified support they have extended to my country on this issue. I would also like to extend our very sincere thanks to the European Union, Japan and the United States of America for the understanding and flexibility that they have shown in accommodating our request for an extension. We will always remember the difficult concessions they have made in order to reach an agreement. We would also like to put on record our thanks to the unwavering support extended by the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Tsunami Recovery, President Clinton and his Office. Last but not the least; allow me to express our sincere gratitude for Mr. Carlos Gabriel Ruiz-Massieu Aguirre, of Mexico for the helpful manner in which he facilitated this draft resolution.
We know of no country or region that had successfully attained a full recovery from a disaster of this scale in three years. We are therefore aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us. However, we are a determined people, and we would like to take this opportunity to assure this Assembly and the international community that we will leave no stone unturned to do so. We fully understand that the tsunami has placed serious obstacles against our vision of becoming a middle income developing country by 2020. Nevertheless our resolve will not be deterred. We are confident that once again with the help of our development partners we would build back better and emerge from this disaster stronger than ever before and proceed with the process of graduation as specified in Assembly resolution 59/209.
The Indian Ocean tsunami has yet again, proven the extent of the vulnerabilities faced by small island states like the Maldives. No single island of my country was spared in the disaster. Within a matter of minutes most of the development progress that we have worked so hard to achieve over many decades, and the basis for the decision to graduate the country, was literally washed away and destroyed. Nearly an year has passed since the disaster but the situation in the Maldives has not eased. The proportionate economic impact of the tsunami on my country is far
too greater for an easy re-bounce. The disaster has effectively paralyzed the economy. We pray that this will be temporary. Rising oil prices, unforeseen tsunami related expenditures and revenue shortfalls from tourism sector are creating significant fiscal pressures at alarmingly high levels. As a direct result of this situation, for the first time in our history, we are now faced with an acute financial crisis and are forced to appeal for budgetary support from our development partners and other friendly countries.
Before I conclude, Mr. President, allow me also to sound out in this Assembly that there is still a major funding gap in the national tsunami recovery and reconstruction programmes of my country. Out of a total of $470 million, estimated for the programme, nearly one third is yet to be pledged. The Maldives is the only country experiencing such a funding gap. While we express our deep appreciation to our development partners and the entire world community for the most generous assistance that they have already extended to us, we would like to make a plea to the international community for further assistance to bridge this gap as soon as possible; for it would be almost impossible for us to pull ourselves out of this disaster without such help.
I thank you Mr. President.