Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to begin by welcoming you to Indonesia to attend the Sixty ¬Second Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. At the same time, I am inviting all of distinguished delegates to commend the Executive Secretary, Mr. Kim Hak Su and his able colleagues in preparing this session.
It is an honour for the Government of Indonesia to be the host of this special Commission Session, which has, for the first time, a special high level session for the Heads of States and Governments for Pacific Island countries, the PLUS.
During the PLUS this morning, distinguished Leaders from the Pacific had presented their thought provoking views on possible areas for enhancing the partnership between Asia and the Pacific. I believe our deliberations during the PLUS have been fruitful and will result in concrete initiatives, through which Asia and the Pacific can progress together and learn from each other.
This Commission session is convened at the outset of the ever-growing economy in Asia and the Pacific region. Robust economic growth is enjoyed by our region and we can see that statistics of our economy curved up at a somewhat faster pace. It is not my mere wishful thinking that through, among other, infrastructure development cooperation, we can attain economic growth with a larger annual percentage than we are having now.
Yet, pockets of poverty still exist within and across countries, and at the same time, we also witness emerging non-traditional social issues. This needs to be dealt with comprehensively, while at the same time we must also maintain the growth and strength of our economy.
Addressing avian influenza and other pandemic diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS requires immediate and comprehensive attention. Preparedness upon them needs the availability of quality research and strong human resources, backed up by adequate health infrastructure. There is an urgent need for capacity development, improved health facilities and laboratories, as well as availability of relevant drugs and vaccines.
On the onset of global economy, developing countries need to have a greater opportunity in the regime of multilateral trade. We should therefore strive to make special and differential treatment for developing countries more precise and more effective, and they should constitute an integral part of the outcome of future negotiations. Capacity development for developing countries to take part effectively in multilateral trade negotiations should continue to become one of the priorities for regional initiatives.
We should also strive to enhance our collective efforts in empowering socially vulnerable groups. Gender considerations should continue to be mainstreamed, and more attention needs to be provided to the promotion of children welfare, the elderly and people with disability.
Taking into account the grand theme of our current meeting on infrastructure development, the Indonesian Government attaches very high priority to improving the capacity, coverage, quality and performance of Indonesia's public infrastructure. Adequate infrastructure is an essential prerequisite for achieving our key targets for rapid and sustainable economic growth for enhancing our international competitiveness.
The benefits of infrastructure development go well beyond economic motives. It plays a critical role in ensuring that growth goes hand in hand with poverty reduction and an increase living standard for all. Hence, we need to ensure that infrastructure development is beneficial for all, particularly the poor.
The lack of infrastructure will not only hinder economic development, but in such other areas as disaster recovery. During the emergency relief period in Aceh and Nias, for example, we faced many challenges that stem from the magnitude and complexity of the tasks, and perished infrastructure is one of them, presenting obstacles in the delivery of relief efforts.
Infrastructure recovery, hence, is one of our primary objectives for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Aceh and Nias. Having said that, I would also like to inform you that such efforts are well underway, based upon the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability. To mention just a few examples, more than 16,000 houses have been completed and at least 13,000 more are in progress, 335 schools are currently under construction and a further 364 committed for construction.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Infrastructure development must be designed as a sustainable process that brings high social benefits for the people. Enhancing regional cooperation in infrastructure development must have double aims of economic progress and poverty reduction, based on the principles of sustainable development.
There is, therefore, a need for a comprehensive regional partpership on infrastructure development. We can achieve that through sharing best practices and information, capacity development and exchange of technological improvement. A concerted effort in cooperation on infrastructure development will further help our efforts in facing globalization impacts.
In light of this, we take note with appreciation various ESCAP initiatives on infrastructure development, and would also like to encourage that such initiatives take into consideration the environmental and geographical characteristics of countries concerned, including the archipelagic nature. Inter¬operability, inter-connectivity, and inter-modality of infrastructure are a need shared by many ESCAP members.
The Asian Highway is one of ESCAP’s infrastructure projects aimed at creating seamless network in the regional. I am glad to inform you that Indonesia has incorporated Asian Highway in its national highway development master plan. The success of Asian Highway will be a milestone to our cooperation and I hope that we can come up with more activities that promote seamless network, which becomes increasingly pertinent in line with the endeavors to enhance the region’s competitive advantage.
At the national level, Indonesia's long-term development strategy pays a great deal of attention for infrastructure development. Such effort is not the solemn sovereignty of the central Government. In line with democratization to which Indonesia adheres, many of development agendas are borne to local governments. This is crucial as there is no one size fits all policy in development agendas in such a vast area as Indonesia.
Infrastructure should be developed on the basis of three pillars, social, economic and environment. Therefore, an umbrella plan that allows the incorporation of three pillars in an integrated development plan is necessary to ensure sustained functioning of the infrastructure. In addressing the need for integrated planning, we have adopted spatial planning as an umbrella plan that facilitates the incorporation of these three pillars. Since infrastructure involves usage of physical space and interaction with its components, this approach has been proven beneficial and effective in ensuring that infrastructure development as well as environment sustainability. Spatial development initiatives can also provide a solution in pursuing challenging infrastructure projects that would otherwise be less financially and technically feasible if pursued on the basis of single sector development.
Indonesia is also taking various measures to strengthen our investment climate, including enhanced legal certainty. Just recently, on 28 February 2006, we launched a comprehensive policy package on investment. These include, among others, improving investment services institutions, harmonizing regulations at the national and local levels, improving customs and taxes regulations as well as manpower and employment policies, and empowering micro, small and medium enterprises. On 17 February 2006, we also launched a policy package focused at infrastructure development. This includes policies on infrastructure financing, risk management, and the establishment of public ¬private partnership center.
Indonesia is committed to playa constructive role in advancing international partnership and cooperation. At sub-regional level, we are taking part in various development initiatives such as in the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT GT).
We are also committing in the South-West Pacific Dialogue (SWPD) and the Pacific Island Forum (PIF), organizations by which we can share our experiences and cooperate in many areas, including development agendas. These include, among others, capacity development on micro finance as well as the Indonesian Art and Culture Scholarship Programme.
Having said that, I would like to encourage ESCAP to enhance its role in promoting concrete partnership between Asia and the Pacific, among others by facilitating tripartite arrangements and South-South cooperation. There are many potential areas of mutual interests to be developed further, such as the promotion of alternative and renewable energy resources as well as capacity development in sustainable coastal and marine resources management.
At the international level, Indonesia is undertaking cooperation with many development agencies, either inside or outside of the framework of the United Nations. In October 2003, we hosted the Asia Pacific Ministers' Forum on Infrastructure in Bali that adopted the Bali Ministers' Joint Statement on Infrastructure and called for the promotion of "Infrastructure for All", particularly for the poor.
I would like to urge all of us to kindly reaffirm our commitment towards promoting “Infrastructure for All”, which recognizes the rights of all people to gain access to basic social infrastructure in improving their quality of life. The fact that disparity in infrastructure provision exists in some countries in the region and among countries in the region requires us to have a strong commitment to channel our resources wisely towards expanding the coverage of basic social infrastructure to reach the less privileged.
We are also committing in expediting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, as exemplified, among others, by the hosting of the Regional Ministerial Meeting on the MDGs in Jakarta, 3 - 5 August 2005 that adopted the Jakarta Declaration on the MDGs: The Way Forward 2015. In light of this, Indonesia is pleased to note that the Commission has been according greater attention to MDGs implementation in our region, and I would like to once again reiterate our hope that ESCAP will enhance its role in the implementation of the Jakarta Declaration, as mandated by the Regional Ministerial Meeting. We need to make development and poverty eradication the overarching objectives of regional cooperation in our region.
To conclude, we, brothers in ESCAP, shall strive to identify a common need and agenda in order to be able to effectively strengthen our cooperation and partnership. Once we make it, we can then leap to the next level of development.
It is the view of the Government of Indonesia that stronger cooperation among ESCAP states shall enable us in dealing with impacts of globalization, strengthen us in advancing poverty reduction and dealing with emerging social issues, and to meeting our Millennium Development Goals.
I wish you a pleasant stay in Jakarta.