HC Deb 12 May 1999 vol 331 c308
8. Mrs. Christine Butler (Castle Point)

What actions she is taking to increase the focus on poverty of the work of regional development banks. [82955]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short)

Since May 1997, we have been working to persuade all the regional development banks that poverty eradication must be their overarching objective. I am very pleased that the new president of the Asian development bank is refocusing the bank's attention on poverty eradication, and the African development bank has also given new emphasis to its poverty focus. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, who is currently attending the annual meeting of the Caribbean development bank, will emphasise the same message.

Mrs. Butler

What steps is the Department taking to encourage further collaboration between the regional agencies and the international financial institutions to reduce poverty?

Clare Short

As I said earlier, there are so many actors in the field of development—the United Nations agencies, bilateral donors, the regional development banks and the World bank—that there is a danger of reinventing the wheel and funding separate projects instead of working on a coherent proposal to strengthen government and economic management and achieve the kind of economic growth and social policy improvements that will lead to sustainable benefits in the lives of the poor. We are working very hard to achieve more international collaboration on international development targets, and the regional banks need to change to achieve that.