Dominican president proposes study group

To analyze the price of food products and petroleum

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez suggested the creation of a study group to analyze the price of food products and petroleum while taking part in the 66th United Nations General Assembly’s High-Level Thematic Debate on Excessive Price Volatility in Food and Related Commodity Markets in New York City.

Fernandez, the keynote speaker in the debate, asked the panel to take a serious look at the permanent factors that influence these prices. He added that after the study was completed, regulations would need to be created to guarantee transparency and access to information on prices and markets.

Speaking during the debate, President Fernandez said: “Food price increases have become a human tragedy of enormous proportions”. The world was suffering from a “recurrent condition” of food- and oil-price volatility, with more than 150 million additional people having joined the 925 million already hungry people in 2009 alone. Besides directly impacting health, food insecurity had led to a lack of hope and given rise to widespread apprehension and fear, he noted.

“A hungry man is an angry man”, he warned, pointing out that more than 60 nations had recently been shaken by food-price-related riots, political unrest and turmoil. Many households now faced tough choices between paying for food, shelter, medicine or education, he said, pointing out that gains made in poverty reduction were at risk.

Fernandez stressed that it was important to note that most of the world’s poor lived in net-food-importing nations. He said that the international community must, therefore, design and implement policy options to overcome the challenge of high and volatile prices, and the first question in that respect was whether they were due to market fundamentals or other factors. He went on to say that some have pointed to increasing demand for food in China and India, weather conditions, rising transportation costs, the use of food products to produce biofuels, geopolitical tensions, the application of subsidies and other factors.

However, he stressed that increased investment in food and other commodity markets have also played a major role, adding that that “major factor” must be examined more closely. He says the problem has become a serious concern for the political stability of developing countries around the world and for the wellbeing of billions of people.

On another subject all together, the President said that he was opposed to legalizing drugs, saying that “we have a commitment to join efforts and strengthen actions to control drug trafficking in our countries”, he said in reference to the Caribbean region.

Dominican Republic Live, from DR1, 12.04.12, 3.20pm

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