New fiscal model for WPNs need of the hour, urge experts

KATHMANDU: A new approach is necessary if the world’s poorest nations (WPNs) — battered by food and energy crises, global recession, and, in some cases, natural disasters — are to escape their predicament, speakers said at a two-day meeting on “Key development challenges facing Least Developed Countries (LDCs), yesterday.”

UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said experience has shown that outside efforts to help LDCs must focus more on enabling them to diversify their economies — to be less dependent on raw materials or agricultural commodities such as copper, cocoa or coffee. Enhancing such economies’ “productive capacities” offers hope that these nations can make steady progress and be less vulnerable to external shocks, such as the global recession and the natural disasters that recently struck Haiti and Samoa, Supachai said.

The experts’ meeting is to provide inputs to an UNCTAD report that will be published in advance of the LDC-IV conference to be held in 2011 in Turkey . The report will focus on “structural economic transformation” in LDCs.

Supachai noted that since the LDC category was created by the United Nations in 1971, the number of countries assigned to it has nearly doubled. It now stands at 49. Only two countries have “graduated” from LDC status in 39 years: Botswana (1994) and Cape Verde (2007), although three more may soon do so.

Among the speakers at the opening session

were Jean Feyder, ambassador of Luxembourg and president of UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Board; Dinesh Bhattarai, ambassador of Nepal to the United Nations Office at Geneva and coordinator of the Least Developed Countries Group along with Turkey’s ambassador to the United Nations

Office at Geneva and

the representative of the host country for the upcoming LDC conference, H Bozkurt Aran.

Feyder said it is important to consider new

ideas, approaches, and options, especially given the effects on LDCs of the global financial crisis. Bhattarai said LDCs continue to be vulnerable, marginalized economically, experience a lack of resources and suffer from widespread poverty.

Aran said there had been “modest progress” towards meeting development goals set at the previous LDC conference, with considerable variation among countries — but the global recession had stalled, and even reversed, that progress.

Chairman of UNCTAD’s inter-divisional task force on LDC IV, Debapriya Bhattacharya, will summarize the debate when the experts’ meeting concludes on Saturday.