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Muhith for new LDC strategy

The least developed countries lack a strategy for finding an effective way out of the categorisation, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday.

LDCs should formulate the strategies according to the newer challenges they are facing now -- a fragile global economy, global warming, and internal political conflicts, he added.

"It's very frustrating that we still belong to the LDC list, long after entering that category in 1974. Which means that the union lacks strategies to find an effective way out," he said.

He also demanded that the rich nations spend .2 percent of their gross national income (GNI) for the betterment of 49 LDCs.

Muhith was speaking at the inaugural session of an international dialogue on Exploring a New Global Partnership for the LDCs in the Context of the Fourth UN LDC Conference -- co-organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), and the Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Dhaka Sheraton Hotel.

"The LDCs have failed to make any significant progress in poverty reduction in the last decade. Although most of them fulfilled the goals of 7.5 percent growth, 25 percent local investment, increasing volume of exports and foreign direct investment," he said.

"We are looking for better opportunities, including new and sustainable markets for our products, more employments at home and abroad, and also more investments to develop infrastructure," said the finance minister.

He stressed on the need for better access to technology, which is a basic requirement for boosting agricultural and industrial production.

He said Bangladesh government is working to prepare a charter of demands that it will bargain for at the Fourth UN LDC Conference in Istanbul, Turkey in May next year.

In the keynote presentation, Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, a distinguished fellow of CPD, suggested that the government should opt for a human development centric growth through heavy investment in human asset development to meet the criteria for graduating from the LDC list.

"There are different indicators for upgrading the economic status, such as increased income level, and boosting human assets," he said.

Bangladesh achieved a satisfactory result in reducing infant mortality rate, he added.

"But it's really tough to upgrade the economic status immediately. To achieve the target of becoming a middle income country by 2021, per capita income of the country has to reach one thousand eighty six dollars from the current seven hundred and fifty dollars," he said adding, "For that the country's growth rate has to reach 10 percent in phases."

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC, stressed the need for reaching a common powerful and sustainable plan of action in Istanbul.

"It should be a 'Brussels plus', which would enhance international support for LDCs. Because, we are facing newer challenges, such as higher food and fuel prices in the changing global economic system," he said.

To battle the new challenges, each LDC should come up with a strategy that will ensure mobilisation of its existing resources, he added.

Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of CPD, said the dialogue will also focus on strengthening partnerships among LDCs for reaching a common goal of upgrading the economic status.

He said CPD will prepare a set of proposals by the end of the international dialogue tomorrow, and send it to all LDC governments.

CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan chaired the inaugural ceremony, which was also addressed by Carlos E Alvarez Voullieme, deputy director of OECD Development Centre; and HB Lunogelo, executive director of Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) of Tanzania.

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One couldn't agree more with the statement of Hon'ble Finance Minister Muhith. However, his government would be advised to bring in the germ of a big dream; a regional system of economic highways i.e., increased economic cooperation and tackling seeds of instability of politics in Bangladesh.

: M.O.Gani

We have been with this red flag since the birth of LDC--a last ditch of compromise amongst the rich. Notwithstandg its real outcome in the broader context of our endemic socio-economic malaise, if at all any, we as a nation have a graduation (!) from inherited dignity, self-respect and promise to a begging nation and culture.

I can challenge that just a handful of 150 million Bangladeshis has ever heard of this term-LDC. But, it remains to be a hot cake to hand-picked technocrats/ professionals, politicians, NGOs, and civil bureaucrats. And they're trading our immune cultural richness just for their own interests and privileges.

Doing something meaningful for the common mass in the field and innovating new thematic ideas/ visions in an air-conditioned and highly clibrated room in capital city are not the same.

How long and how far should we run after this ILLUSION ? Let's face the reality with whatever we have; and surely we will succeed--may not be today, but definitely TOMORROW.

Dear unreachable intellectual elits and honored diplomats: please release us from this scourge of this. This is an age of globalization, technology, self-survival, and recession all the more. The early the nation turns back from this dependency syndrom, the better for all of us.

: Alom, Syed





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