The Attorney-General and Minister for Finance attended the Asia-Pacific High Level Consultation on Financing for Development in Jakarta, Indonesia from 29 -30 April 2015.
The Consultation is being attended by Finance Ministers, senior UN officials including the Secretary General’s special advisor on post 2015 development planning and the Under Secretary General of UN and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, multilateral organisations, civil societies, and the private sector. The Consultation discussed the zero draft outcomes document ‘Addis Ababa Accord’ (‘Accord’) which will be finalised and adopted by UN member States in July 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There have been two previous declarations, namely the Monterrey Consensus of 2002 and the Doha Declaration of 2008 which focused on financing for development to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by end of 2015. The Accord sets the financing framework to achieve the post 2015 agenda, namely the Sustainable Development Goals (‘SDGS’). The Attorney-General participated in a panel discussion on financing in a changing development landscape in the Asia-Pacific regional context. The panel consisted of representatives from government, academia, civil society and the private sector.
During the discussions, the Attorney-General stated that in the context of small pacific island States (‘SIDS’), the region’s population size, geographical remoteness and the lack of economies of scale limits the ability of nations to attract foreign investments and mobilise domestic resources. Taking into account these factors, many of the SIDS will continue to rely on overseas development assistance (‘ODA’) to meet the SDGS.
He highlighted that some eight pacific countries were among the top 20 most aid dependent nations in the world, but not Fiji. In Fiji’s case, ODA resources was only 4 percent of the 2015 government budget. Despite the lack of ODA, the Fijian Government has substantially increased spending on infrastructure up to 20 per cent of total government budget while funding towards education and health has increased to 26 per cent.
The Attorney-General further highlighted that in order to meet the SDGS, SIDs could not follow the mainstream options of financing development. The peculiarities of the SIDS economies and the limited range of fiscal and monetary options meant that any regional or global discussions and strategies to develop financing options for SIDS needs to be specifically tailored.