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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2559

Commonwealth Finance Ministers meet in Colombo to discuss poverty.

Neville de Silva - Diplomatic Editor Asian Tribune

London, 01 August, (Asiantribune.com): How to promote growth and livelihoods in the 53 member states of the Commonwealth will form the centerpiece of the discussions of the organization’s finance ministers when they meet in Colombo next month.

The meeting from September 12-14 precedes the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and any key decisions taken by the Commonwealth ministers will be available to the two Washington institutions when they hold their crucial sessions.

One of the key sessions in Colombo will be on the theme "An agenda for growth and livelihoods” during which Commonwealth ministers from the developed and developing countries from across the globe are expected to explore different ways and means of promoting inclusive growth that generates new means of income or enhances existing ones and helps reduce poverty.

With the Millennium Development Goals set by world leaders at the turn of the century, whose basic aim was to ensure sustainable development and so reduce poverty and raise the living standards of millions of people in poverty stricken Africa and Asia now virtually dead in the water, the starving millions are becoming increasingly cynical about high powered meetings.

"There has been so much talk and so little achieved, so much money and time wasted on producing plans and reports that our peoples have long stopped believing in them,” one African diplomat told “Asian Tribune.”

"Well after all the promises made at last year's Gleneagles summit of the G8 rich nations and the failure of trade negotiations on the Doha Round in Geneva last month all the people see is the difference between appearance and reality," an Asian academic said.

The Commonwealth ministers are also due to "discuss the need to give countries the opportunity to develop their own policies for economic progress rather than having prescriptive solutions imposed upon them," the Commonwealth Secretariat in London said.

The belated appreciation of this need beggars belief as one academic told “Asian Tribune.”

"For years the developing countries having been asking for development aid from western institutions and governments that would allow them to formulate their own policies and development programmes best suited to their individual countries.

But international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank have over the years dictated policy that developing countries should follow if they are to receive assistance from these Washington institutions," he said.

He referred to the privatization policies on basic necessities such as water imposed by the IMF and land reform policies dictated to by the World Bank that has led to public uprisings in some countries and economic disaster in others.

"The question is how much of an impact decisions taken by Commonwealth finance ministers would have on international institutions and major donor countries outside the organization," the academic said.

The ministers are also expected to discuss current trends in the world economy including high oil prices and how they affect member states, IMF and World Bank issues, progress in implementing debt write-off initiatives and the special challenges facing small, vulnerable countries.

The question of international aid will also be on the agenda with senior officials who will meet before the ministerial meeting examining the effectiveness of the aid from the perspective of developing countries.

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse is due to inaugurate next month's meeting which will also be attended by Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon; Director Economic Affairs Commonwealth Secretariat Indrajit Coomaraswamy and senior officials.

- Asian Tribune -

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