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IN FULL: Mthuli Ncube’s speech to UN meeting on middle income countries

STATEMENT BY HON. PROFESSOR MTHULI NCUBE, MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, ON THE OCCASSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH LEVEL MEETING ON MIDDLE INCOME COUNTRIES: 4 DECEMBER 2018: NEW YORK

                                                                                                                                                      

Your Excellency, Mrs. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests:

I am pleased to join you this morning. Thank you, Madam President, for convening this important meeting.

The UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/67/290 acknowledges the efforts and successes of MICs in eradicating poverty and their contribution to global economic stability. However, the 2030 Agenda also recognizes the significant challenges MICs face in the process of attaining sustainable development.

Madam, President,

Despite positive economic growth, MICs are home to 73% of the world’s poor. MICs face the daunting challenges in trying to mobilise finance and in harnessing innovation for development. The relative decline in forms of finance, such as Official Development Assistance (ODA), and the emergence of new actions and sources of financing, pose great challenges on the capacity of MICs to mobilise resources for development.

Madam President,

In order to address the gaps and challenges, we need to examine what form and structure of development cooperation is necessary for MICs. The UN Development System (UNDS) has an important role in that respect. Improved coordination in the way the UNDS, international financial systems and other stakeholders’ support MICs to build capacity and resilience to achieve sustainable development, is key to the attainment of the 2030 Agenda.

Madam President,

The Zimbabwe Government’s vision is to transform the country into an upper middle income economy by 2030. In tandem with Agenda 2030 and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, we have formulated our Vision 2030 anchored by the policy that Zimbabwe is Open for Business and Dialogue.

To achieve this Vision, Government developed a short term stabilisation strategy – the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (October 2018 – December 2020), which is already under implementation.

The Transitional Stabilisation Programme`s immediate objective is macro and fiscal stabilisation and laying a solid foundation for attaining the triple ‘S’ growth – strong, sustainable and shared. The resilience of the economy has been buttressed by the results of the recently published GDP rebasing.

Recently, our Gross Domestic Product was rebased in line with international norms, and as a result, the 2018 nominal GDP is now US$24.6 billion, from a previous level of US$21 billion. Following the rebasing, Zimbabwe’s per capita GDP for 2017 rose from US$1 235 to US$1 508, and is being projected to reach US$1 642 by end of 2018, placing Zimbabwe in lower middle income status.

We continue to strengthen existing programs coupled with new initiatives in our pursuit to build a sustainable and resilient society. We have made substantive progress in the implementation of some of the SDGs, in particular, food security.

The Presidential inputs scheme, which aids towards sustainability in communities through farming inputs support, reinforced by Command Agriculture has seen the national strategic grain reserve being restored to 500 000 metric tonnes, a leap towards food self-sufficiency.

Regarding water and sanitation, Zimbabwe has implemented a national programme for the rehabilitation and repair of non-functional water points. We have also initiated a paradigm shift towards solar powered piped water schemes. However, access to improved sanitation remains a challenge in both rural and urban areas.

On energy, more focus is on increasing available energy with a view to attaining self-sufficiency which will in turn have a domino effect on our efforts to grow the economy. It will also positively impact the rural electrification projects currently underway through the Rural Electrification Agency.

Madame President,

The above cited successes in the implementation of the SDGs have been achieved despite the Zimbabwean economy being in debt distress. We remain confident that the ongoing reengagement with the international community will help restore debt sustainability, and bolster external support.

To fulfil the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is necessary to reconceptualize development and rethink domestic policies and international cooperation for development in order to “leave no one behind”.

In that context, the role of Official Development Assistance and concessional finance to middle income countries remains very critical. While it is generally agreed that there is limited scope for ODA to expand MICs fiscal space, Official Development Assistance and other concessional financing are still important, especially for investments in health, education and other social sectors. Strengthening private sector resource mobilization will also be key.

Countries such as Zimbabwe, transitioning to higher income levels, in spite of their income growth, still do not have a sufficiently broad capability base enabling them to compete and narrow their economic and social gaps vis-à-vis more developed countries.

Madame President,

The tight fiscal space that Zimbabwe faces, as is the case in most middle income countries, justify the search for strong partnerships and private sector solutions to support much needed investments. This means that the enabling environment in our countries must improve first to attract the private sector in SDG related sectors.

In conclusion, let me reiterate Zimbabwe’s commitment to multilateralism, and in that vein we will continue to do our best endeavors to end extreme poverty, curb inequalities, promote inclusive development, in the spirit of leaving no one behind.

I thank you.