SAMOA PRIME MINISTER WANTS SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR SMALL ISLAND STATES

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APIA, Samoa (July 5, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says vulnerabilities faced by Pacific Island countries reaffirm that small island states require special consideration by the world community.

"The formula used, for example, by the United Nations in allocating assistance to countries must take into account the volatility of the factors that impact on our fragile economies and the repercussions that these fluctuations in fortune have upon our people," he said.

The Prime Minister made the comment while introducing UNDP’s 1999 Pacific Human Development Report in Apia, Samoa.

"Nevertheless, it is incumbent for our small island nations to make best use of the assistance and partnership of donors, to put in place and implement reform policies that would improve the resilience of our economies to external shocks -- which seem to be an undeniable feature of the modern global economy."

He also said Samoa’s progress in human development is a perennial goal that shall always dictate his Government’s actions.

"Measuring ourselves by the standards of the Human Development Index (in the 1999 Report), we have done better than many of the larger and wealthier countries in achieving a high adult literacy rate, high levels of school enrollments for our children, and, on average, a relatively longer life expectancy for our people," he said.

"These achievements reflect the substantial investments the Government and communities, both here and abroad, have made in our quality of life."

However, the Prime Minister emphasized these investments are vulnerable to natural disasters.

"Added to these problems (disasters) are other economic challenges that countries of this region are too familiar with. Yet this Pacific Human Development Report points out, the Samoan economy has bounced back strongly from these setbacks."

Speaking on the 1999 Report, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Fiji, Romulo Garcia, said sustainable human development involves a process of change that can only come about with concerted political and community effort.

"This report makes the point that good governance is crucial to achieving human development," he said.

"Amongst other things, this includes increasing the amount and quality information that is available about social and economic change, in order to ensure that policies and programs are effective and lead in the best direction.

"It also involves developing sound political and administrative structures that facilitate decision-making and policy implementation," Garcia said.

He said the 1999 Report is again measuring human development not only by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employment and other economic indicators, but also by social standards, such as longevity, adult literacy, access to health services, safe drinking water and the participation of women.

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