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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

Chirac calls for more aid to poor states

A K Bhattacharya in Davos | January 28, 2005 12:47 IST

The opening day of the five-day-long annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, which began in Davos on Wednesday, was marked by French President Jacques Chirac mooting four controversial proposals to raise adequate resources for global aid to poorer nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

In a videolink appearance at a session just before the opening plenary, Chirac said the developed countries could consider raising levies on cross-border financial transactions, taxing fuel used in air transport and shipping, levying a one-dollar charge on every air ticket and imposing a levy on flows of foreign capital in and out of countries that maintain bank secrecy.

India & the World Economic Forum

These proposals were made in the context of the need for developed countries meeting their long-unfulfilled pledges to dedicate 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product to aid for poorer nations.

Chirac, who was unable to travel to Davos because weather conditions prevented the use of his helicopter, warned participants that the young people of the developing world might revolt if the rich countries did not provide hope for a better future by offering them a clear way out of the desperate poverty they lived in.

Chirac's message came just before the opening plenary session with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who refrained from referring to any of the new taxation proposals made earlier to raise more resources for aid.

Instead, Blair told participants in general terms that the problems of poverty and deprivation in Africa would be the priorities for the Group of Eight industrialised nations and the European Union.

for a partnership between the governments of African countries and those of the developed world, he said doubling of aid and 100 per cent debt relief for highly indebted nations should be considered as options.

The highlight of Blair's address was his reiteration that the US, under the leadership of President Bush in his second term, accepted that terrorism could not be defeated by military might alone.

The US, he said, understood now that solving the world's problems required a collaborative and multifaceted effort -- not just hard power.

At a subsequent session on the role of G-8 in Africa, held today, the urgency of providing more aid to Africa and other poor countries in Asia and Latin America was driven home more powerfully by participants.

The stock response of Blair and former US president Bill Clinton, to increase aid to Africa, came under mild criticism from Bono, the rock musician, who leads an organisation called Debt, AIDS and Trade in Africa.

"I do not care by what sleight of hand you get the resources, but when thousands of people are dying of AIDS and malaria in Africa every day, you cannot talk of this only as a cause. It is an emergency and we all need to recognise that," he said.

While Bill Gates of Microsoft Corporation pointed out how individual businessmen needed to think afresh on how they could make a difference by increasing their contribution, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said the issue was not just of raising resources through some method, but of effective utilisation.

"African countries themselves needed to bring peace as well as stability and then focus on improving their conditions by using aid," Obasanjo said.

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