• Abbott says G20 must prove its relevance

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    SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday said Group of 20 (G20) leaders must prove the forum remains relevant by producing concrete outcomes from their summit this weekend, warning against “hiding behind lofty words.”

    The world’s most powerful economies have a patchy record in delivering anything meaningful from their annual meetings but Abbott, as 2014 host, said he wanted that to change in Brisbane.

    “Collectively, there is much work to do,” he said in an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review, ahead of the economic summit that includes the likes of US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

    “The global economy remains weak. There’s a shortfall in available funds for infrastructure, a lack of employment opportunities globally and trade growth that remains disappointing,” he said.

    “The G20’s ability to prove it can step up and act on these challenges is critical to the forum’s relevance in the future,” Abott added.

    G20 finance ministers agreed in meetings this year to work towards raising the level of their combined economic output by at least 2.0 percent above the currently projected level in the next five years, relying heavily on the private sector to deliver growth and jobs.

    Each country is expected to submit its detailed plans to achieve this in Brisbane.

    While signing off on this is the key outcome that Abbott expects at the weekend, he said an equally important aspect of Australia’s rotating presidency was encouraging better accountability by those in charge over the decisions they make.

    “There’s an equally important piece of work being done to ensure that, when leaders meet, it’s more than just a high-level talkfest,” he said.

    “Australia, as G20 president this year, has worked hard to ensure that accountability – to fellow G20 members and to the peoples we serve – is central to our work,” he said.

    “There’ll be no hiding behind lofty words and motherhood statements in Brisbane. Each nation’s domestic growth strategy will have been peer reviewed and the strategies will be published for the world to see,” Abott added.

    Together, it will be known as the Brisbane Action Plan.

    Making the policy details publicly available “will ensure that people back in each of the G20 nations will know, straight after the summit, exactly how their leaders propose to drive new economic growth and deliver new jobs,” Abbott added.

    “So there will be a domestic expectation upon leaders to deliver at home and an expectation from fellow G20 members who have resolved to hold each other accountable,” he said.

    The Australian leader added that he firmly believed that the G20 should stay focused on growth, jobs and the world’s economic governance with other issues set aside.

    AFP

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