Your Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa
Your Excellencies the Heads of State and Government of SAARC
Your Excellencies the Representatives from the Observer States
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a privilege for me to be here in the historic city of Colombo to participate in the 15th SAARC Summit. On behalf of the Nepalese delegation and on my own, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Government and the people of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka for the warm reception and cordial hospitality.
I would like to congratulate His Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajpaksa, President of Sri Lanka on his election to the Chair and assure him that my delegation reposes full confidence and trust on his leadership and wisdom to steer the deliberations to a successful conclusion. I would also like to congratulate Sri Lanka on the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of its independence this year. I believe that under the able leadership of the new Chair, SAARC would take further momentum in fulfilling its noble objectives as enshrined in the Charter, while proving its relevance to the people by making them capable to meet the new challenges. I would also like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to India, Immediate Past Chair, for the active leadership role it played during the last year. I would also like to record our appreciation for the committed leadership of the Secretary General and the dedication and hard work of his team.
Sri Lanka’s President H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa with
Rt. Honourable Girija Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal at the 15th SAARC Summit
As we stand here to deliberate on the issues of regional integration and collective action within an Association that covers a quarter of the humanity of the world, we have to do so against the formidable challenges we are confronted with. They are of long term and short term in nature. While promoting an inclusive growth, we should focus ourselves on alleviating poverty, and ensuring employment opportunities to the youths throughout the region. Now, this has to be looked at against the background of an unprecedented rise in the prices of hydrocarbon fuels and food. Whereas the price escalation of fuels has created problems to sustain economic growth needed to promote welfare of the people of South Asia, the rise in food price has put questions on the very livelihood of our people. Our vulnerability to these shocks is more than that of many other countries. These daunting challenges demand that poverty reduction efforts in South Asia should have a comprehensive approach and be focused and result-oriented.
Since our region suffers from energy deficit, we need increased efficiency in our energy use and collective efforts in conservation of energy resources. We must immediately take strategic steps for regional energy connectivity and energy trade for exploitation and use of all energy resources available in the region, while ensuring universal access to commercial fuels. Nepal is ready to utilize the rich hydropower potentials of the country for equitable benefits in the neighborhood. Moreover, we feel that we need to develop a regional strategy for management of waters for all different kinds of uses in the region in view of the increasing problem of water scarcity faced by the people in the region.
The adverse environmental changes induced by climate change is calling on sustainable and judicious use of non-renewable resources and a commitment to an increased use of renewable sources of energy such as hydropower. While there is a larger responsibility of the economically advanced countries to address the problems of global climate change, we must work with a united position to ensure increased resource flow and technology transfer to enhance our capacity in Clean Development Mechanism.
We welcome the preparation for establishment of SMRC Development Fund, which, I believe, will initiate the process of funding regional and sub-regional projects in the areas of social, economic and infrastructure development. From the pilot stage of projects implementation, we need to ensure proper matching of funding requirements in our enormous priority areas with the actual availability of funds for their effective implementation. We should make efforts to tap the growing strength of the private sector of the region in getting involved in projects under pUblic-private partnership scheme and the appropriate involvement of the international and regional financial organizations in consonance with the SAARC objectives and principles.
Implementation of SAFTA is our first major step towards the arduous course of deeper integration of economies. We must always ask how much benefit our people are getting from this joint effort and how much trade expansion it has fostered. I see more role and responsibility of all of us to make SAFT A an engine of growth in South Asia. At the same time, I request all member countries to be responsive to overcoming the hardships and capacity constraints suffered by LDCs like Nepal in a bid to translate into action the provisions envisaged under SAFTA Agreement. We are in favour of including Trade in Services under SAFT A and implementing all agreements and measures designed to facilitate intra-regional trade as early as possible.
The emphasis on connectivity of the South Asian peoples, places, economies and infrastructure must be reiterated with firmer resolve so that we can implement prioritized projects identified for achievement of these goals. As a landlocked country, we attach importance to improvement of multi-modal transport and transit infrastructure of the region, and proper facilitation of transport and transit in order to lower the cost of doing business and enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of our trade.
Growing disparity between the haves and have-nots is putting enormous stress on social harmony, peace and security in several parts of South Asia. In addressing this problem, we are all aware that we have to make the socio-economic and political development processes more people-centered, inclusive and based on equality and justice. The social sector issues of South Asia are too many as any other issues. But I think the most important ones at hand are combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, preventing and controlling the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, controlling other transnational crimes and addressing the issues of women and children, including the elimination of worst forms of violence against them. The existing conventions in the social sector will prove their worth if they are backed by enabling national legislations and the mechanisms to address these issues. They have to be promoted in a more harmonized way by, among other things, involving the civil society organizations and the private sector in the process.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We in Nepal have made a commitment to bringing all social classes, ethnic groups, and geographic regions into the national mainstream while putting an end to the decade old conflict through the successive consolidation of peace process. Our main priority is how to ensure inclusiveness of the social class, gender and peoples living in various geographic areas in the governance of the country in order to enable them to shape their own destiny. Following the successful Constituent Assembly elections of April 10, 2008, the country is pursuing the path of socio-economic and political transformation process in an attempt to bring the peace process to a logical conclusion and realize the dream of making a new Nepal based on democratic ideals, equality, justice and inclusive progress.
We have built strong bonds of trust and fraternity within SAARC since its establishment 23 years ago. We believe in collective actions to promote collective prosperity. We must consolidate our work to bring this common vision into reality.
This is a propitious time to attain our objectives, and they are indispensable to take our region to a new height. This is the promise that we have made to the people and we must deliver. And looking at the long-term perspectives, we hold the view that we have no other option than to synergize all our efforts, based on the proven complementarities of South Asia, to realize the noble objectives of SAARC.
(Courtesy : Government of Sri Lanka )