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MDGs not a mirage, regional lawmakers told

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – The East African Legislative Assembly is urging its members to use their mandate to close the glaring gap between commitment and delivery in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

EALA Speaker Abdirahin Abdi stated that MDGs were still achievable if the scale of action towards achieving them was stepped up.

Speaking while presenting a paper titled ‘Attainment of the Millennium Development Goals – Cooperation between European Parliamentarians and Regional Parliamentary bodies’ at the African Development Cooperation Strategy conference in Nairobi, he noted that the Goals explicitly recognise that eradicating poverty can be obtained only through the global partnership for development.

The EALA Speaker pointed out that the MDGs committed rich and poor countries to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, eliminate gender inequality and environmental degradation, and ensure access to education, healthcare and clean water, all by 2015.

“With still less than five years to go it is late, but not too late. We are the first generation that can put an end to poverty and should simply refuse to lose this opportunity,” he said.

“We are all linked by trade, finance, migration, disease and financial crises which do not recognise national boundaries. Neither does terrorism,” he further stated.

In regard to the role of the parliamentarians in developing countries in the attainment of the MDGs, the EALA Speaker noted that the Millennium Goals will not be achieved unless concerted action was taken by developing countries themselves.

He said even the poorest country can perform better and there was no excuse for lack of action to make policies and public expenditure management more pro-poor, transparent and participatory.

He explained that the goals provided parliaments with a perfectly tailored internationally agreed framework to hold their governments to account for these efforts.

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“The goals sum up the aspirations of their electorate in dealing with concrete measurable “pocketbook” issues which everybody can relate to: to have a school nearby with a teacher who turns up to teach, books and pencils for students to use,” he stated.

The Speaker called for the enactment of legislation that was relevant and effective in reducing poverty and meeting the MDGs, noting that in many countries, inheritance, property and tax laws urgently need to be reviewed to ensure women can fully participate and contribute to development.

He added that in order for poor people to lift themselves out of poverty by unleashing their entrepreneurial spirit, legal reform was needed to improve the business climate particularly for domestic investors.

He stressed that in many developing countries, the volume of capital flight was actually larger than that of aid received.

“Legislation is not necessarily the panacea in tackling the problem of poverty, but can be a strong base for, and a compliment to the social mobilization required to achieve the MDGs”, he affirmed.

During the seminar, Poland’s Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Krzysztof Stanowski reaffirmed his country’s commitment to strengthening development policies and strategies for Africa.

He disclosed that Poland had drafted a law on development cooperation with the belief that it would enhance the country’s involvement in European Development aid and allow it (Poland) to adopt globally recognized standards, bringing it closer to the level of the old EU Member States.”

Delegates at the seminar concurred that North-South Dialogue was imperative for strengthening development policies and strategies and recommended that nationally owned development strategies should be supported through strengthened parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of government policy and legislation in the attainment of the MDGs.

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