Opening remarks at the Second session of the Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction, and Financing for Development

Excellency Mr. Ahmad Jawad Osmani, Deputy Minister of Economy of Afghanistan,
Excellency Ms. Fathimath Niuma, Deputy Minister of National Planning and Infrastructure of Maldives,
Dr. Yasuyuki Sawada, Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank,
Excellencies, distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and to the second session of the Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction, and Financing for Development.

Since this Committee last met in 2017, our region has experienced a number of new and emerging trends that are shaping the financing for development landscape, including rising trade protectionist measures, widening socio-economic disparities and increasing climate change related natural disasters, which have had an adverse impact on development gains in our region.

This new context means that accelerating financing for development strategies is more important than ever. During the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, world leaders emphasized the importance of raising ambition and mobilizing financial resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the High-level Dialogue, the UN Secretary-General outlined his three-year Roadmap for Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that could serve as blueprint for the advancement of the regional Financing for Development strategies.

The four areas of the roadmap are aligning the international financing system behind the SDGs; supporting individual countries in mobilizing domestic resources for sustainable strategies; addressing exclusion from financial services; and enhanced international cooperation.

These four focus areas, combined with the various national, subregional and regional approaches and actions, will be at the heart of the issues on which this Committee may wish to encourage members to share their perspectives. ESCAP can provide leadership to move this agenda forward.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

In 2019, ESCAP’s “Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific: Ambitions beyond growth” estimates that Asia-Pacific developing countries should invest an additional US $1.5 trillion per year, or 5 percent of their combined GDP, to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

While the Asia-Pacific region has been the engine of economic growth, it is high time that we align economic policymaking with inclusive growth, poverty reduction actions and climate-smart growth in our region. This means gearing up for a decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.

Allow me now to highlight three priority areas closely linked to the Roadmap for Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on which this Committee’s guidance would be valuable.

The first is on an integrated national financing framework to mainstream the SDGs into policymaking. With the changing priorities of government budgets, national level financing for development strategies are the cornerstone of integrating requirements for SDGs implementation. The focus is also to leverage the participation of private investors through public-private partnership modality in areas such as infrastructure projects.

The second is on financial inclusion and financial technology. I recognize the importance of enhancing the access to finance available to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises with a focus on women entrepreneurs, as well as to explore opportunities of the digital economy and to boost inclusive business models.

The third is on enhanced regional tax cooperation. Countries in the region need to address the challenges to increase tax revenues, through policies such as broadening the tax base, and minimizing tax avoidance and tax evasion. I am confident that this Committee can develop the financing for development framework needed for consolidating regional modalities these are to support the SDGs.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

In view of this, may I highlight three policy proposals for your consideration and further guidance.

First is on an integrated national financing framework, which is essential to mainstream fiscal policy options, including changes to budgetary processes and fiscal incentives. ESCAP, in consultation with national policymakers, is working towards developing a guidebook to support country-level SDG costing.

There is a need to align our economic development approach to SDG 12 targets which is on sustainable consumption and production patterns that can raise opportunities for environmental sustainability and green jobs.

Second is on a strengthened financing plan is key to tackle climate-related risks and to allocate more resources to the advancement of green economy. ESCAP is taking an active role in promoting the use of public-private partnerships and bond financing for infrastructure development and leveraging green bonds for climate finance with a focus on the least developed countries and their efforts to graduate.

The emphasis here is not only to identify the sources of funds, but to pay a special attention to increasing the amount and access to climate finance and related innovative instruments.

Third is on increased recognition of regional tax cooperation, which is needed urgently so that it can deal with the emerging challenges in the field of international taxation, to support the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the means of implementation of sustainable development. ESCAP stands ready to support the development of a revamped tax regime to tackle the new business models of digitalization, ranging from web-based services to remote employment and manufacturing activities, by providing a regional platform for a broad-based consultation and cooperation among member States.

Regional tax cooperation could further focus on sharing knowledge and information on new national tax initiatives, policy lessons and best practices, and strengthening coordination among different subregional tax cooperation platforms and major partners and stakeholders.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Going forward, the Committee may wish to consider actionable modalities and instruments, to support of the financing for development agenda.

We cannot work alone to advance this roadmap. We need strong and sustainable partnerships within the United Nations family, and other international and regional organizations including the Asian Development Bank, to support member States and all stakeholders to mobilize resources for SDGs in our region.

Together, we can raise ambitions beyond economic growth, promote national sustainable financing framework, improve financial inclusion, and enhance regional tax cooperation to support the SDGs.

Thank you for your attention. I wish you a very successful Committee.