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Qatari Businessmen Association       Gulf Centre for Strategic Studies       Qatar University

British delegation calls for transparency among nations

Published: Thursday, 13 April, 2006, 11:44 AM Doha Time

By Ramesh Mathew

THE Deputy leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords in the UK, Lord David Howell, yesterday gave a call for setting up a network of countries across continents for ensuring smooth trade and better transparency among nations.

Lord Howell made these remarks while addressing delegates at a session on ‘Regional Institutions and Future challenges’ at the sixth Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade at the Sheraton Doha.

While lauding the role of regional forums in finding long-lasting and effective solutions for many controversial issues, the British parliamentarian highlighted the necessity of such organisations to have an excellent understanding with international forums, especially UN-led bodies.

“It is a combination of liberalisation, innovation and enterprise that fetch better results in any activity and when these features are supported by a strong leadership, results are there for everyone to see,” said Howell.

Stressing the importance of flexibility in every sphere of life, Howell said it is unity in the midst of diversities that delivers better results in any business, whether political, social or economical.

Citing the leadership’s out of touch attitude towards its citizens as the main problem of some member nations of the European Union (EU) for initiating political reforms, Howell pointed out that the concept of economic nationalism, generated by some of states have virtually stalled all decisions aimed at pushing their economies forward.

“Resistance by some EU members and their reluctance on the issue of national capital have put paid to the aspirations of some societies as in Spain,” said Howell.

He cited as example the public resistance in Spain to the investments in power sector by private entrepreneurs. Simlar resistance emerged recently in Germany and France too, said the British parliamentarian.

Contrary to this, the American Congress has taken a liberilised view regarding the issue of take over and disinvestments pointing out the involvement of Dubai Ports Authority in the running of some major ports in USA as an example.

Howell attributed heavy taxation, high levels of unemployment and excessive regulations as factors responsible for slowing down rate of economic growth in Europe and proving to be a hindrance in the way of Europe’s prosperity.

Towards the end of his speech, Howell made an appeal to forget about two existing blocks and called for abandoning all support to US policies in international trade.

Terming Qatar as a role model of a small country emerging as a major economic power, Howell attributed this to the strong political leadership and forecasted that with proper channeling of its human resources, the country could move much faster in implementing political reforms.

Speaking later, Ibrahim Ghambari, undersecretary of the UN Secretary General, said Qatar’s positive approach has yielded good results for the country on several fronts.

While congratulating Qatar for contributing $10mn for the UN to support the democracy fund, Ghambari said the country would soon host the permanent headquarters of UN Human Rights Centre for South Asia, North Africa and Middle East.

Highlighting the role of regional institutions, the UN official said peace and security was not only the concern of countries affected by military struggles, but that of the whole mankind.

“Regional forums are more closer to issues than international bodies and naturally their activation is more of a necessity in turbulent situations such as in Iraq,” he said.

Even while complimenting the role of UN Peace Keeping Force in restoring law and order in Sudan, Ghambari said the initiatives pioneered by African Union too was in no way insignificant in reaching a settlement. Concluding his speech, Ghambari commented that neither UN nor regional forums have completed their task and are duty-bound to protect the aspirations of future generations and ensure better standards of living for all citizens.

“There is an urgent need for mankind to live a life free from fear, live in dignity and also to have governments of their own choice,” he concluded

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