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Statement by President Koroma at the High Level MDG Summit at the United Nations
By President Koroma
Sep 22, 2010, 17:45
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PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF

SIERRA LEONE TO THE UNITED NATIONS

 

245 East 49th Street, New York NY 10017

 

STATEMENT BY

 

HIS EXCELLENCY DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE

 

AT THE

 

HIGH LEVEL EVENT ON THE

MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOAL (MDGS) DURING THE

65TH SESSION UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEETING 

20th 22nd SEPTEMBER 2010

 

NEW YORK, 21ST SEPTEMBER 2010

 

      CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

 

Mr. President,

Colleagues Heads of States and Government,

Secretary General of the United Nations,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

Allow me to begin this intervention by congratulating you, Mr. President, on your assumption of the Presidency of the Sixty-Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly and through you, to express sincere thanks to the Secretary-General for organizing this high-level event on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration of the Summit in 2000. This undoubtedly underscores the importance the Secretary-General attaches to scaling up actions in the remaining five years of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

 

Exactly ten years ago, at the Millennium Summit, nations, particularly rich ones made solemn promises to more than a billion of people, to address, among other things the raging poverty and hunger striking them and improve their quality of life through a renewed commitment to fight poverty, improve education and health and protect the environment in developing countries within a specific time-frame of 15 years.

 

When the MDG agenda was launched, Sierra Leone was engulfed in a decade long civil conflict. The conflict created an immense setback to human development and virtually crippled the economy. The end of the civil war in 2002 left the state very weak and absent in many parts of the country. Economic and financial management was focus largely on emergency and humanitarian activities. Economic and human development programmes were given relatively limited attention. Consequently, social indicators were worse than pre-war levels.

 

Clearly, Sierra Leone was going in the wrong direction during the first decade of the MDG agenda.

 

However, since my assumption of office in 2007, we have made considerable progress in consolidating peace and security. We have also focussed on consolidating democracy through the electoral process and by increasing transparency and accountability. Notably, our sustained commitment and actions to rid our society of corrupt practices are yielding positive results, as service delivery has significantly improved. Between 2008 and 2009, Sierra Leone improved its rankings on the Corruption Perception Index by twelve places.

 

I believe that achieving the MDGs will be made much easier if the economy is on the right track and people feel that their lives are getting better. The recent global crisis presented enormous challenges for the robust growth of our economy. But we weathered the storm, achieving a growth rate of 5.5% in 2008, and 4% in 2009. Though this is above the average growth of 2% for Africa, it is below the rate of growth necessary to pull our people out of poverty. We are projecting more robust growth this year, which will definitely increase our capacity to ameliorate poverty.

 

Government has demonstrated its commitment to stay the course of sustained macroeconomic stability and enhanced growth with prudent economic policies and wide ranging structural reforms through its Agenda for Change. The Agenda for Change articulates Governments plans for the countrys development, and prioritizes four strategic areasenhancing national electricity; developing the national transportation network; enhancing productivity in agriculture and fisheries; and sustaining human development, notably health, education, water and sanitation. As these four pillars address the prevailing weak economic and social indicators as well as infrastructural bottlenecks, they facilitate the achievement of the MDGs.

 

Overall, starting business in Sierra Leone has significantly improved, owing to an increased effort by government to address issues surrounding business environment, including business climate reforms. At present, however, poor infrastructure continues to be a major obstacle to private sector-driven growth in Sierra Leone. That is why we are presently developing a national transportation network and reliable power supply as we transit from post conflict to development.

 

However, some of the MDGs and associated targets may be missed in Sierra Leone. Ratings of poverty, maternal and child mortality, environmental sustainability and gender equality are still very low. To address this, we introduced a Free Health Initiative for Pregnant Women, Lactating Mothers and Children under five years. Since we launch this initiative in April this year, there has been an increase of over 70% in institutional delivery and massive increased demand for health services by the target group. We believe this will significantly improve our countrys maternal and child health indicators. But poverty and illiteracy remain the two main factors negatively influencing achievement of the other MDGs.

 

If the MDGs are to be achieved by 2015, not only should the level of investment be scaled up, innovative programmes and policies for enhanced economic and social transformation must be further developed and rapidly implemented. In this respect, we must continue to build strong collaborative partnerships between government agencies and development partners in the development and implementation of programmes that significantly impact on human development.  The challenges to our achievement of the MDGs are immense, but building synergies represent the best hope for overcoming these challenges and meeting the aspirations for a better life that are embedded in the MDGs. Last week, my country received the MDG award for showing leadership in combatting HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases. This shows that with sustained partnership, the leadership of Sierra Leone can ensure the overcoming of  many of MDG challenges our nation now faces.

 

I thank you all.


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