Prime minister of Guinea Bissau in Portugal to prepare Geneva round table meeting

20 October 2006

Bissau, Guinea Bissau, 20 July – The prime minister of Guinea Bissau, Aristides Gomes, began a visit to Lisbon Friday to prepare the round table meeting to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in November, which will also take him to Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Rome and Washington, officials said.

The visits are part of an effort to raise awareness of the importance of the donor round table meeting, scheduled for November 7 and 8,. Gomes is due to meet with his Spanish, French and Italian counterparts, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, and the boards of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington.

Guinea Bissau plans to collect some US$400 million in donations at the round table to support projects included in the National Strategy Document for Reducing Poverty (DENARP), as well as Defense and Security reforms.

Gomes told journalists that the mission to raise awareness was a move by the government to demonstrate the importance the local authorities have placed on the issue, and noted the efforts already made by President João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira, and several of his ministers.

“We are a country with a shortage.
We have to revive public finances, consolidate our focus on education and health and build the infrastructure needed for the country’s economic development, while always taking into account the need to attract foreign investment,” he said.

He said, however, that reform in the defense and security sectors was “essential” for reviving public finances, a move which was already underway and which, by the end of the year, would license over 500 members of the armed forces, who would be provided with financial support for reintegration into civilian life.

Gomes added that as well as request financial help from donors, the government intended to ask for a debt pardon from several countries, as debt servicing absorbed a large part of the country’s revenues. (macauhub)