Posted by: africanpressorganization | 8 June 2009

Conference of Ministers of Finance Opens in Cairo with a Call to Use Economic Crisis to Reshape Policies




Conference of Ministers of Finance Opens in Cairo with a Call to Use Economic Crisis to Reshape Policies



CAIRO, Egypt, June 8, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A good crisis should not go unexploited, and Africa should exploit the current crisis to reshape its dealings with the outside world, reshape African policies towards its poor, and reshape the continent’s potential for future growth.


This was the call made Saturday 6 June by Yousef Boutros-Ghali, the Minister of Finance of the Arab Republic of Egypt, while opening the African Union Conference of Ministers of Finance and Economy; and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.  The two-day meeting is attended by more than 40 African countries most of them at ministerial level.


Dr. Boutros-Ghali stated that the current global economic and financial crisis is reversing the strong development progress Africa was making.  He said the crisis will test Africa’s capacity, but expressed confidence that Africa would rise to the challenge.


“I know we will be up to the task.  We will overcome the struggle,” he declared.


He said even though it was never a good time to be finance minister, the current period was particularly difficult.  Resources are dwindling due to lower export earnings and other effects of the recession, and yet more resources are required to deal with the impacts of the recession.


The minister said he had used his chairmanship of the International Monetary and Financial Committee to make sure Africa’s voice is heard on the international stage.  He urged fellow ministers of finance to increase spending, particularly on infrastructure development, even though it would increase budget deficits, as to do otherwise would increase poverty.  This increased spending will mean Africa would be in a better position to increase growth after the current recession, he said.


Also speaking at the opening of the meeting, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Jean Ping, said that Africa’s leading institutions, the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank; have all been proactive in supporting Member States respond to the financial and economic crisis.


He cited examples including the meeting of African ministers of finance and governors of central banks in Tunis, Tunisia in 2008; the creation of the Committee of Ten (C10); and Africa’s participation in the London G20 summit as an entity which spoke with one voice and presented one common position for Africa. This, he said shows the determination of Africa to contribute actively in the search or a global solution for the economic crises.


He hailed the decision of the G20 summit to increase resources available to the International Monetary Fund, noting that poor countries could benefit from an additional US $50 billion.  He called on other international institutions to honour their pledges to increase resources to Africa.


Chairperson Ping further pointed out that, the theme of the ministerial conference: “Enhancing the effectiveness of fiscal policy for domestic resource mobilization”, is timely and carries a very strong political message across the international community, the African population and the governments of the African countries.


He said Africa’s unity of purpose will make sure that continent’s voice is heard in the drafting of new rules for global economic governance, and reform of the institutions that regulate the global economy.


Speaking at the opening ceremony, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, noted that although the global financial and economic crisis was not of Africa’s making, its impacts were being felt on the continent and it was therefore necessary to pay very close attention at various levels and across various sectors. 


He outlined four key areas that ministers should consider at the meeting as protecting Africa’s recent development gains; identifying the major domestic policy options African countries can adopt in responding to the crisis; engaging with the international community to ensure that promises made to Africa, particularly with regard to aid and trade, are honoured; and how to ensure that Africa’s concerns regarding reform of the international financial architecture are adopted.


He stated that the active participation of ministers in consensus building meetings would send the right signals on Africa’s common purpose to the international community.  He concluded that the Ministerial Statement to be adopted at the end of the meeting would convey Africa’s views, concerns and perspectives to the forthcoming G8 meeting in Italy as well as to the next G20 meeting in New York.


Also addressing the opening ceremony, the outgoing Chair of the Bureau and Minster of Finance of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Sufian Ahmed, said the crisis would have a severe impact on human development. “Growth will be lower, budgets will be strained and the remarkable gains achieved over the past decade in poverty reduction could be reversed and the MDGs put under threat,” he warned.


The priority for all African countries is to contain the adverse impact of the crisis on growth and poverty, while preserving the hard won gains of recent years, including macroeconomic stability.


He said the conference theme, was crucial as a substantial part of development financing should preferably be closed through an increase in domestic savings.  However, for several countries, this is not possible in the short run due to their low income base and underdeveloped financial sectors.


The meeting will include a ministerial panel discussion addressed by Maxwell Mkwezalamba, the African Union Commissioner for Economic Affairs; Supachai Panitchpakdi, Director General of United Nations Conference on Trade  and Development; Jomo K.S., United Nations Assistant Secretary General for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Mr. Cyril Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development; and Leonce Ndikumana, Director of Research and the African Development Bank.


The Second Joint Annual   Meetings of the AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and   Finance and ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance,   Planning and Economic Development ends Sunday 7 June 2009.


Conference website:


African Union Commission (AUC)


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