Sri Lanka already attained, or on track on MDGs - President at MDGs Summit Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info)
Thursday, 23 September 2010 03:49

Sri Lanka has incorporated Millennium Development Goals key performance indicators in our national budget policies, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

Speaking at the Summit of the Millennium Development Goals in New York, he pointed out that as a result Sri Lanka has already attained or is on track to attain the MDGs, despite formidable odds, including the almost thirty years of a violent terrorist movement and the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

“In terms of universal primary enrollment and completion, we had recorded a level of almost one hundred per cent (100%) by year 2007. Gender parity in primary education has reached ninety nine per cent (99%) and in secondary and tertiary enrollment, the ratio of girls to boys exceeds one hundred per cent (100%),” the President said.

Quoting from what Buddha preached in the Maha Parnibbana Sutra, President Rajapaksa expressed deep conviction that “the well-springs of our civilization, nurtured by the Buddhist tradition should guide our approach to economic and social policy making.

At the core of this, there must be a sound scale of values. Nowhere is this better expressed than in the Maha Parnibbana Sutra, the final sermon preached by Gauthama the Buddha. Here, he declares that the moral worth of any society can be assessed by a clear yard stick. This consists of the quality of treatment meted out to women and children. In building a caring and compassionate society over the centuries, we have never lost sight of this ideal.

Emphasizing the imperative need for protecting the environment, the President said, “while we strive to achieve reasonable standards in living, we must not forget the need to avoid treading heavily on the natural environment. The current spate of natural disasters around the world and frequent flood situations in countries, are a stark reminder of the effects of environmental degradation.”

President Rajapaksa urged the world leaders to treat this as urgent and reach consensus on curtailing global warming based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and the Bali Action Plan.

Following is the full text of the speech:

Ten years ago at the dawn of a new millennium, we re-affirmed our commitment to consolidate efforts in the spirit of collective responsibility, to free our world from hunger, to uphold human dignity, and to ensure sustainable co-existence with Mother Nature.

We set for ourselves the goal of advancing progress in eight key areas by the year 2015. Today, with just five years left, we have mixed results. Amidst multiple, inter-related and worsening global crises that confronted our world in the past few years, some countries have suffered setbacks in achieving these goals while others have scored remarkable success.

Mr. President,
Yet, time is still on our side to renew the political will and look for a way forward to reach the set targets, by harnessing our synergies. It is in this context that this High-Level Forum under the auspices of the United Nations assumes special significance.

Although each individual country has the sacred responsibility to ensure the welfare of its people, in an increasingly inter-connected and globalized world we cannot survive in isolation. Hence, achieving the Millennium Development Goals becomes ever more important in the collective interest.

The recent global economic and financial crisis has severely reduced the access to external resources and private capital flows, for developing countries. In such circumstances, there should be genuine commitment to fulfill donor obligations.

Unfortunately, the trend for more restrictions and protectionist measures in trade, debt relief and access to technology is posing a challenge to development. Hence, we need to act with a sense of urgency and partnership. At the same time, it is important for development assistance from external sources to continue to encourage for the sake of sustainability.

Our national policy has been developed within the framework of global priorities which we consider appropriate at this time. In the South Asian context, some of our urgent pre-occupations include food security, energy security, and global warming. Building up buffer stocks of essential food items, ensuring price stabilization and continuity of supply calls for a more systematic approach to international cooperation.

We are convinced that economic development to be sustainable, must include emphasis on protection of the environment. Green technology in industrial production is, therefore, one of the central needs of our time. The improvement of infra-structure in our villages and opportunity for social advancement is necessary to discourage mass movement of populations from rural areas into our towns.

Gender equality and the breaking down of social barriers are features of a peaceful society. Equity with regard to the distribution of wealth and access to essential services, we believe, are hall-marks of long term stability.

Mr. President,
In Sri Lanka, social development goals, such as free healthcare, access to education were embedded from independence, in the country’s overall policy framework. In addition, through my own vision spelt out in the “Mahinda Chinthana - A vision for future”, we embarked upon a 10 year pro-poor, and pro-development oriented framework, to further consolidate and accelerate socio-economic progress, equally importantly.

It is our deep conviction that the well-springs of our civilization, nurtured by the Buddhist tradition should guide our approach to economic and social policy making. At the core of this, there must be a sound scale of values. Nowhere is this better expressed than in the Maha Parnibbana Sutra, the final sermon preached by Gauthama the Buddha.

Here, he declares that the moral worth of any society can be assessed by a clear yard stick. This consists of the quality of treatment meted out to women and children. In building a caring and compassionate society over the centuries, we have never lost sight of this ideal.

Sri Lanka has incorporated MDG key performance indicators in our national budget policies. As a result, Sri Lanka has already attained or is on track to attain the MDGs, despite formidable odds, including the almost thirty years of a violent terrorist movement and the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that brought massive destruction to my country.

Mr. President,
In terms of universal primary enrollment and completion, we had recorded a level of almost one hundred per cent (100%) by year 2007. Gender parity in primary education has reached ninety nine per cent (99%) and in secondary and tertiary enrollment, the ratio of girls to boys exceeds one hundred per cent (100%).

Now the challenge is to further enhance the quality of our education to empower and prepare young people for productive employment. We have also undertaken vigorous measures to enhance computer literacy through a nation-wide project called “Nena sala” – centers of wisdom, covering mostly the rural areas.

In the health sector, our endeavour is to ensure every expectant mother a safe and attended child birth, and to increase the current rate of ninety eight per cent (98%) of such births, immediately to one hundred per cent (100%). The infant and under-five mortality rates, have decreased from a rate of 32 per thousand births in 1990 to 11.3 per thousand in 2009.

While our focus has been on countering tropical epidemics such as malaria and other vector borne diseases, we now need to pay adequate attention to forms of non-communicable diseases that pose a serious challenge to our health sectors. We would therefore urge access to medicines at reasonable costs and more predictable financial and technical assistance to develop local capacities, to improve conditions for patients.

Mr. President,
While we strive to achieve reasonable standards in living, we must not forget the need to avoid treading heavily on the natural environment. The current spate of natural disasters around the world and frequent flood situations in countries, are a stark reminder of the effects of environmental degradation. We must, with a sense of urgency, reach consensus on curtailing global warming based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and the Bali Action Plan.

Mr. President,
Every crisis while posing a threat brings an opportunity as well. Let us therefore resolve to use the opportunity afforded by our High-Level Meeting, to forge the strongest possible global platform to achieve the goals so necessary for our common good.
I thank you.