Dhaka, Bangladesh
Bangladesh hopes to pass imminent 2nd test for LDC graduation

Bangladesh hopes to pass imminent 2nd test for LDC graduation

Business community suggests extending transition time for final assessment for pandemic blowback

News Report: A second test of criteria fulfilment for Bangladesh's graduation from the world's poor-country club or LDC is set for next month, and the government is optimistic about crossing the threshold into the transition process. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal Wednesday expressed the hope, before the February session of a UN appraisal panel, as the country already has attained all the three criteria, although crossing over two qualifies a country for getting in a three-year transition in graduation to a developing country. The country's apex trade body recently came up with a suggestion for the government to seek extension of the transition time for final decoration--now set for 2024--to five years in order to retain the international trade concessions and privileges because of the coronavirus pandemic blowback on the economy. The finance minister reaffirmed his resolve to help Bangladesh navigate through the headwind blowing worldwide to graduate from the least- developed country (LDC) status in the next triennial review meeting of the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP) in February. “We hope that we’ll graduate from the LDC status and thus march towards a developing nation,” he said. The Finance Minister was briefing reporters virtually after chairing two separate meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs and the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchases (CCGP). Bangladesh is going to get recommended for the 2nd time for fulfilling the criteria of graduating from the LDC status in the triennial review meeting of the UN- CDP to be held in February 2021. Kamal said upon fulfillment of some criteria, the UN CDP in a triennial review meeting give recommendations for graduation of a country to an upper level from the lower level. If a country can pass two consecutive assessments by the UN CDP, then it gets recommended for graduation. Bangladesh was recommended for LDC graduation by the CDP in its triennial review in 2018 as the country had met the graduation criteria in Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, Human Assets Index (HAI), and Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI), he mentioned. The finance minister said if Bangladesh could fulfill all the three criteria in the second review or assessment in February, then the country would be able to come out of the LDC bloc and thus move towards the next stage. “We’re hopeful that we’ll overcome the second assessment through fulfilling all the three criteria and move towards the upper tier…….We hope we’ll graduate from the LDC status,” he said. Kamal said if Bangladesh could graduate, it would be an wonderful attainment for the country as well as a historic moment as Bangladesh is celebrating the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of country’s independence. "Once the LDC graduation is completed," he said, "the nation could devote this prestigious achievement (LDC graduation) to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the martyrs of the Great War of Liberation and the mothers and sisters who were violated during the war." The CDP will review the country’s performance based on these criteria in its triennial meeting on February 7-9. If the country meets the criteria in this review, it would be recommended for graduation. According to the CDP, a country gets a three-year transition period to prepare itself to tread its own course sans the supports accorded to the bloc of LDCs. During this preparatory period, it continues to receive benefits from specific international supports in the areas of trade, development assistance, and general support. Recent official data suggest Bangladesh has met the criteria in its GNI, HAI, and EVI, to get out of the LDC bloc. The UNCTAD in its assessment shared with the government last month found the country well ahead of the requisite thresholds in the three criteria. Being an LDC, the country has been enjoying trade preferences, development financing that includes official development assistance or ODA, technical assistance, and other forms of support. But, once it gets the recognition of a developing country by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the country will be given three more years as a “grace period” for preparation. After this transition period will have been over, the country will no longer get such benefits. Bangladesh was included in the LDC list in 1975. In 2015, it crossed the threshold of the World Bank-defined lower-middle- income country and became eligible for graduation in 2018. A country must cross the threshold on two of the three criteria in two consecutive triennial reviews to be considered for the graduation. With inputs from BSS, media reports

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