Washington: Merrell Tuck, Mobile: +1 202 415 1775
Ljubljana: Sabina Kranjec, Ministry of Finance, Mobile: + 386 51 608 404
Brigita Mark, Slovenian Government communication office, Mobile +386 41 362 067
LJUBLJANA, May 17– At a time when private capital flows far surpass official aid flows and when building a better investment climate is vitally important to raising prosperity around the world, the Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) 2007 opened today in Bled, Slovenia.
Slovenia’s Prime Minister Janez Jansa said in his opening speech, “Development economics isn’t anything unless it delivers results and the World Bank plays an essential role in bringing together nations of the world, helping poor countries with no access to credit. It is my wish that this conference will contribute to new solutions for development that involve the private sector. Our words will be useless unless they are followed by action.”
ABCDE 2007 comprises a core program focused on ‘Private Sector and Development,’ including plenary sessions covering financial-sector inclusiveness, investment climate, and provision of public services by non-state actors (such as in health, education, environment/water). The event, which was held last year in Tokyo, attracted about 400 participants from over 90 countries, representing academia, civil society, the private sector and policy makers.
“Without a strong private sector, Slovenia’s transitional period would not have come to an end so quickly...The experience has been a guiding principle of Slovenia’s international development cooperation and our donation activities are aimed at developing a private sector that will give the people of developing countries the opportunity to eliminate poverty by their own will and labor,” said Andrej Bajuk, Minister of Finance, also speaking at the conference opening.
World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Francois Bourguignon spoke at the opening about the evolution of development thinking from a period when the private sector was viewed as not adequate to lift up the poor to today, when it is send as centrally important and when all development efforts must be mindful of how to improve the climate for business.
Mr. Bourguignon said: “Let me talk first about the problems the World Bank is currently facing and the fact that because of the current difficulties, World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz decided to cancel his visit to Slovenia. These are challenging times for our institution. However, I want to stress that with this important ABCDE agenda of ‘Private Sector in Development’ topic, we are showing our intention to stay firm in our commitment to development work. The Bank Group will engage without pause with the rest of the development community and with the world at large in our mission of poverty reduction and development.”