Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Millennium Development Goals on right track

The Government's 10-year development plan is on the proper track to achieve a long-term sustainable growth by 2010, Executive Director/ National Programme Director- Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Dr Don S. Jayaweera said.

"The Government's policy on reducing poverty is mainly based on pro-poor and pro-growth approach and strategy of reducing sharp regional disparities in poverty and wealth creation," Dr Jayaweera said at the Asia Pacific MDG Progress Report Dissemination Event.

Delivering the keynote address he said that though Sri Lanka has achieved considerable success in the reduction of non-income poverty, there has been relatively less success in reducing income poverty.

Jayaweera said only 8 per cent of the people live in the extreme poverty category of US$ 1 per day. However, 51 per cent of the people live on less than US $ 2 per day and there was only a minor change in the proportion of population living below the national poverty line from 26.1 in 1990 to 17.2 in 2006.

He said that in 1990 the country's poverty reduction is 16 per cent and has come down to 6.5 per cent this year and expected to come down to five per cent in 2008 is one of the achievements in the Government's ten year development plan.

He said Sri Lanka's budget deficit has been reduced to 7 per cent in the 2008 budget is expected to reduce to five per cent in the next year and year before. In tern it would be able to reduce the poverty through employment generation in the short-term perspective.

Sri Lanka has shown outstanding progress towards MDGs such as primary education, literacy and gender equality.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne said among the countries in the Asia Pacific Region, Sri Lanka has shown an outstanding progress towards MDGs such as primary education, literacy and gender equality. Maternal mortality rates in the country are among the lowest in the region.

He said Government policies and concerted timely response such as free education and access to free healthcare have resulted in Sri Lanka obtaining a relatively high Human Development Index. It has set an example for other countries in the Asia Pacific Region to follow, he said.

He said in Sri Lanka poverty is highly prevalent in the plantation sector and certain provinces in the country which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

ADB Country Director, Sri Lanka Richard Vokes said MDG is at the half way mark towards the target date of 2015 and have a historic opportunity to change the lives of millions living in object poverty.