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G20 - exclusive interview with Commonwealth's Kamalesh Sharma

World division of wealth grotesque, says Commonwealth chief

Reuters

It is a "grotesque irony" that 90 per cent of the world's countries are not represented at this weekend's G20 meeting, say  the heads of the Commonwealth and the alliance of French-speaking countries, la Francophonie in a joint statement issued Friday.The leaders of the G8 and G20 to show concern for the poor at the summit in Toronto, Canada, or drop claims to economic leadership, Commonwealth secretary-general Kamalesh Sharma told RFI.

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The fact that the G20 meeting brings together just 20 countries who control 90 per cent of global GDP underlines the inequalities in the world, say Sharma and Francophonie secretary-general Abdou Diouf, whose organisations represent 100 countries with more than a half of the global population between them.

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Most of those countries are squeezed out of the debate on the world economy, Sharma says.

"It’s the nature of global discourse that it’s the big economies, like America, Europe and the emerging economies, that get discussed and not the consequences of all these crises upon small economies and vulnerable economies."

The economic crisis is a further threat to already inadequate aid levels, Sharma says.

"The World Bank has said that there is a shortfall – this year - of 315 billion dollars [255 billion euros] in the development needs and this amount will be the same in years to come."

So they want the G20 to set up a working group to find new resources.

"The fact is that the aid budgets within the world are barely holding and one cannot expect to see a dramatic increase," the Commonwealth head says.

"One cannot expect to see extra budgetary resources coming up because of the climate of austerity, of fiscal discipline, retrenchment of public expenditure which has been brought into play by the financial crisis and the experiences of sovereign debt, as in Greece."

France 24 on the Greek crisis

Funding for maternal health in the developing world should be a priority in order to meet the targets set for meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, just five years down the road, according to the joint statement.

They would like to see half a million midwives trained as an immediate priority .

"The women in our society are central to any kind of advancement," Sharma says. "In my personal view, the most important millennium goal is the dignity and the place and the protection and the support - the opportunity which is given to women."

 

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