Today happens to be Bastille Day and I just wanted to assure all the government officials who are here that the choice of this date was entirely accidental--at least that's what my NGO colleagues tell me. On behalf of the steering committee, it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you to the global launch of the Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Initiative. We are especially pleased to welcome all of you here today from the 7 countries participating in the exercise. I would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Government of Norway for its very generous financing of this exercise.
Let me take a few seconds to tell you about the purpose of the initiative. When Mr. Wolfensohn proposed this exercise, he had in mind a very forward-looking exercise. With that in mind, we have adopted two objectives: first, to demonstrate that the participation of local broad-based civil society can improve the economic policymaking process; and, second, to identify practical and necessary changes in policy to improve the lives of common people. These are obviously important and worthwhile objectives, but they will also be very difficult to achieve.
In many ways, today is only the start of the exercise. So far it has been prepared, not exclusively by any means, but mainly, from Washington. From now on it will be in each of your countries. And in each country, we will almost certainly encounter difficult problems just as we did in the preparation phase. When that happens, my advice is to keep in mind the importance of those two objectives because if we all do that, then I am sure we will find a way forward no matter how difficult the problem.