Education, Skills Key to Graduation from LDC Status

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Moving out of Least Developed Countries (LDC) status requires raising people’s education and skill level as well as improving their health.

The matter was stated by Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury during the conference on launching related issues, held in Vientiane on Tuesday.

“Stamping out of the LDC list also obliges raising their income in a sustainable manner, which eventually results in a higher level of human development,” Dr Kikeo said.

Laos’ 5th National Human Development Report and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development´s (UNCTAD) Least Developed Countries Report 2016 were also launched by UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Laos, Ms Kaarina Immonen.

Since deciding on the goal of graduating from Least Developed Country status at the 6th Party Congress in 1996, the Lao government has focused on the criteria for graduation in the country’s main strategic plans, according to the UNDP.

With the intention to support the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2016-2020) and the Socio-Economic Development Strategy until 2025, the 5thNational Human Development Report focuses on ways to ensure smooth graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status.

During the conference, the report revealed that significant progress in human development and poverty reduction has been made in the Lao PDR. Its human development index value has risen significantly in the past decades, while its poverty rate has declined from 46 percent in 1992-93 to slightly over 23 percent in 2012-13. The encouraging progress on the Millennium Development Goals is, however, uneven across regions and ethnic groups as reflected in the concentration of poverty and deprivation in some areas and large gaps of provincial Human Development Index values.

Laos’ Gross National Income per capita and its education and health indicator values are on track to meet the LDC graduation thresholds in the next review by the United Nations’ Committee for Development Policy in 2018, the UNDP said. Despite good progress, the country’s economy lacks structural economic transformation and diversification for smooth LDC graduation.

The export structure remains weak and resilience to economic shocks and natural calamities continues to be low.

Graduation itself is not the goal, but only the first step, argues UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report 2016. To weather the loss of the international support they received as LDCs and confront the challenges that lie further ahead requires what the report calls ‘graduation with momentum’ – a process of structural change to increase the productivity of their economies.

For Laos, international and regional integration will create opportunities to diversify the economy by promoting areas of the country’s comparative advantage and plugging into regional and global production networks.

At the same time, the country needs to overcome the challenges of limited human capital, a small labor force and low investments in human development sectors such as health, education and social protection.

 

Source: Vientiane Times

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