Singh deprecates developed nations' market barriers

Monday, 30 September 2002, 07:00 Hrs
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WASHINGTON: Indian Finance Minister Jaswant Singh Saturday sought the World Bank's intervention in dismantling market barriers erected by the developed countries.

In a speech at the Development Committee, the policy-making body of the World Bank, he said this was an area where the Bank could play a "very important role in identifying crucial constraints and in financing the critical investment needed."

Singh, attending the first Bank-International Monetary Fund annual meetings after assuming the finance portfolio in last July, wanted the Bank's analytic work to be directed at further advocating dismantling of trade distorting barriers in industrialized countries and strengthening the abilities of smaller developing countries to negotiate.

He made out a strong case for boosting further the resources of the International Development Association (IDA), the concessionary lending agency of the Bank, saying that it had played a critical role in the poverty reduction efforts of the developing countries. India is one of the major beneficiaries of the facility, drawing about $1 billion a year.

Singh urged development partners to direct the majority of the funds required for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through multilateral concessional channels like IDA.

He drew attention to two issues relevant to the developing countries and said they had remained largely unadressed. First, the need of developing countries to much greater access to stable and longer term sources of capital flows. Secondly, the need to enhance the ability of the World Bank to finance MDG related productive investments by restoring its risk-bearing capacity through a general capital increase.

He made a specific request to World Bank President James Wolfensohn to list these issues as subjects for discussion in the next annual meeting in 2003, with the Bank management preparing a detailed discussion paper on them.

The minister pledged strong support to the Bank-IMF initiative to curb the menace of money laundering and combating the financing of terror.

"India's fight against terrorism is almost two decades old. This was why we are happy at the progress made in accordance with the mandate given by the International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC), the policy-making body of the Fund, and the Development Committee in November last.

"We particularly welcome the emphasis on technical assistance and capacity building," the minister said.

Earlier, at his speech at the IMFC, Singh spoke about intensifying global efforts for preventing the abuse of the international financial system for money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Singh welcomed IMF managing director Horst Kohler's initiative to streamline Fund conditionality, which, he said, had culminated into a new set of guidelines, including several additional features like emphasis on country ownership.

Source: IANS
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