Intervention by Roberto Bissio at the plenary of the opening session of the 3rd HLF on Aid Effectiveness, Accra

Notes for the intervention of Social Watch coordinator, Roberto Bissio, at the plenary of the opening session of the 3rd High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, Accra, Ghana, September 2, 2008.

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Thank you Mr. Chairman.

I am Roberto Bissio, coordinator of Social Watch, the network that monitorsgovernments’ commitments on poverty eradication and gender equity in over 60countries.

Our members are extremely concerned by the lack of a sense of urgency andcorresponding commitments that we see in the latest drafts of the AAA. At thevery start of the draft, world poverty is said to affect one billion people anddecreasing, whereas the latest poverty estimates by the World Bank say theactual figure was at least 50% higher than that in 2005 and, since then, thefood crisis has only worsened it. By underestimating the problem and statingthat we are on the right track we fail to see the iceberg and steer our worldTitanic in a collision course.

Even after underestimating world poverty in paragraph two and statingoptimistically that it is being reduced, in paragraph 3 the commitment isreaffirmed to meet the Millennium Development Goals, but the year 2015 as thetarget date has been deleted. What does it mean, Mr. Chairman? That we will meetthe MDG within the current Millennium?

We do not see in the draft AAA the concrete measures we need to speed updevelopment. Even worse, the current set of indicators that assesses countrysystems works against the right to development of recipient countries by forcingthe opening up of government procurement to foreign corporations that willunfairly compete with local providers and limit the ability of governments tosupport their small and medium business, women led initiatives, local farmers orcooperatives, etc. The existing asymmetry in power between donors and recipientsis made even worse in paragraph 15, allowing donors to choose at will whetherthey use country systems or not, even after they have been reformed to fit thedonors’ interests.

If aid is to be efficient for development, it should contribute to the availablepolicy space of developing countries and not limit it by introducing policyconditionalities through the back door on issues like procurement, alreadyrejected by partner countries in the WTO negotiations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman