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Updated: May 17, 2010 19:03 IST

Rajapaksa takes over Chairmanship of G-15

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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
AP Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday took over as the new chairman of the Group of 15, even as he asked for a “realistic and fruitful” dialogue with the developed countries.

“In taking over the Chair, I commit to continuing to further strengthen the voice of our Group on the international stage,” he said here.

I have every confidence that in this task, Sri Lanka would receive the fullest co-operation and support of all Members of the Group,” Mr. Rajapaksa said while taking over the coveted post from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The strong unity this Group has always projected, complemented by its rich diversity, will go a long way towards contributing to the achievement of its objectives,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.

“I consider it a special privilege and an honour for Sri Lanka to assume the Chair of the G-15 at the milestone of its 20th anniversary,” he said.

Meanwhile, addressing the Summit, Mr. Rajapaksa proposed the G-15 work very closely with the G-8 to promote constructive dialogue on all major aspects of development.

The twenty years, since the inception of our Group, have seen significant changes in its collective economic profile, he said.

“Some of our members, who have progressed to development indicators earlier limited to the ranks of the G8 countries, are already playing an influential role in the global economic power structure.

The Group, has countries who are leading producers of oil and natural gas, of extractive resources and of commodities. Others have economies with large and diversified industrial bases accompanied by advanced technological capabilities.

Common to our nations is a fast growing reservoir of human capital, contributing to the knowledge economy,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.

He said a clear methodology needs to be worked out for this dialogue to be realistic and fruitful.

Mr. Rajapaksa said the G-15 had a unique composition representing about 33 per cent of the world population, with clearly identified objective.

He said it had the potential to play a constructive role in promoting people-centered development initiatives in global economic and social policy dialogues.

“For this reason the G-15 stresses the need for reforms in the international financial architecture to better enable it to monitor, respond and to prevent financial and economic disasters. To attain this objective there must be an open, inclusive and transparent dialogue,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.

Mr. Rajapaksa said the Bretton Woods Institutions (World Bank and other related bodies) when working with the developing countries should take into account their specific conditions as well as structural constraints they confront.

These Institutions should refrain from imposing conditionality which we see in retrospect, did lead in their own way to fuelling the recent crisis, Mr. Rajapaksa said.

“The developing world has not run away from its responsibility to contribute to the progressive liberalisation of global trade.

It is all the more regrettable that we are yet waiting the conclusion of the Doha Round of negotiations in the WTO and the delivery of its development mandate.

The G-15 must remain firm that the final package should address the concerns of the developing countries,” he said.

The Sri Lankan President stressed that there must be increased market access for the goods and services of export interest to the developing nations.

“They should not tie up with politically motivated conditionalities,” he said.

Referring to climate change President Rajapaksa said, “it is an issue towards which we in the developing world owe limited, if not little historical responsibility. It must be recognised that the present trend should lead to the reduction of the environmental and carbon emission space available for developing countries in such a manner as to impact on our entitlement to development.

In this situation, it is the principles of equity and of common but differentiated responsibilities as enshrined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that provide the direction for our future guidance, Mr. Rajapaksa said.

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