Commonwealth finance ministers in Cyprus

COMMONWEALTH finance ministers will concentrate on the global financial crisis during their three-day meeting, which starts in Limassol today.

The agenda has been divided in three parts, each dealing with a different aspect of the global financial crisis.

The first part is dedicated to the economic impact of the crisis and policy responses while the second part will put emphasis on the effects of the crisis on two specific sectors.

During the third part, ministers will discuss the reform of the international financial institutions aiming in evaluating the progress based on the principles decided last year.

The Commonwealth is made up of 53 independent states with a total population of some two billion people.

Fifty-two states will be taking part in the Limassol summit that runs until Friday.

Fiji Islands have been excluded due to a coup in the country in 2006.

It is thought that 40 countries will be represented by their finance ministers.

Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma will be in Cyprus for the meeting.

The Commonwealth Secretariat said in an announcement that the Secretary General would also be received by President Demetris Christofias and other political leaders.

Sharma said the Cyprus meeting comes at a critical time, ahead of the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank that will take place in Turkey a few days later, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2009.

“There is a real expectation about the meeting, partly born of the backdrop of global economic turbulence in which it takes place, and the recognition that we can only come through it if we act together,” Sharma said.

“A year ago, when our Finance Ministers last met in St Lucia, the world was entering into deep recession. Most would agree that it is still deep in it – and that its residual effects will be all the worse for the smaller, weaker, poorer countries without either the institutions or the economic resilience to weather its storms.”

Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis who will hold a joint news conference with Sharma, yesterday met the Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General Ransford Smith in Limassol ahead of the conference opening.