LDCs seek dues, not charity under international commitments: PM

Publish: 6:19 PM, March 5, 2023 | Update: 6:19 PM, March 5, 2023

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) want its dues, not charity under international commitments for their real structural transformation.

“I can assure you that LDCs will also keep their side of the bargain. Our nations do not ask for charity; what we seek are our dues under international commitments,” she said.

The premier was addressing opening plenary meeting of the 5th United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC5: From Potential to Prosperity) at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) here.

“The Doha Programme of Action is yet another assurance of hope for the world’s most vulnerable countries. The international community must renew its commitment for real structural transformation in LDCs,” she said.

For graduating LDCs, she said that there should be some incentives for their performance.

“They should enjoy the international support measures for LDCs for an extended period of time. They need enhanced investments and know-how to build their productive capacities,” she said

Sheikh Hasina went on saying that there can be some innovative and transitional financing mechanisms meant for them.

However, LDCs need sustained support to double their share of global trade, she said, adding ODA targets for LDCs from developed countries deserve to be fulfilled.

The prime minister said the International Financial Institutions have the means to support debt sustainability in LDCs.

“Climate financing for LDCs should be made flexible and predictable. Technology transfer to LDCs needs to be tangible and meaningful. Our migrant workers need protection for their rights and well-being. We cannot fail the 226 million youth in LDCs,” she added.

The prime minister told the meeting that the pandemic and then the war in Ukraine have dealt a major blow to LDC economies.

The rise in food and fuel price in international markets has caused inflations in most LDCs, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said, “Much of the Bangladesh story owes to international support measures we negotiated for LDCs”.
“The duty-and-quota-free access we secured from most developed and emerging economies helped our private sector build a solid manufacturing base,” she said

The prime minister said the patent waivers provided under TRIPS Agreement allowed us to locally meet 98 percent of our pharmaceutical needs.

“The exemptions under other WTO agreements enabled us to boost agricultural production and combat hunger and malnutrition,” she said

She went on saying that the international technical assistance we received helped us make concrete development plans.

In Bangladesh, she said that they are dealing with 1.2 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar with no immediate solution.

The premier said, “I am happy to be with you at this august gathering. I thank the government and the people of Qatar for their generous hospitality. I appreciate the forward-looking words we have just heard,” she said

In 1974, Sheikh Hasina said that Bangladesh became a member state of UN under the leadership of her father, the country’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

At the time, Bangladesh, recognised as an LDC, was struggling to rebuild the war-ravaged economy, she said.

The following year, the premier said that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, along with most of his family members, was brutally assassinated.

“To carry forward his (Bangabandhu) legacy, we vowed that Bangladesh will continue to champion the LDC causes. Bangladesh feels proud to have often acted as an LDC spokesperson in the last five decades. I attended the previous LDC conferences in Brussels and Istanbul,” she said.

The prime minister said that they are pleased that Bangladesh qualifies for LDC graduation.

“We now look forward to graduating in 2026. Bangladesh is the only LDC among the world’s 50 largest economies in terms of GDP. Our march towards graduation is also marked by our efforts at just, inclusive and sustainable development,” she said.

The premier said her government has cut down poverty rate from 31.5 to 20% within a decade.

“We are internationally recognized for disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation,” she said.

She continued that Bangladesh’s social protection measures constitute 16.75% of our total budget.

The premier said her government distributed about 700 thousand cost-free houses to ensure shelter for all.

“We rank top in South Asia in reducing gender disparity. Our literacy rate stands at 75.2%, with near universal primary education enrolment. The average life expectancy of our people is now more than 73 years,” she said.

During COVID-19 pandemic, she said her government provided 28 stimulus packages worth 6.15% of Bangladesh’s GDP.

“Our economy proved its resilience by growing at 7.10% even in 2021-22. Per capita income grew three-folds in a decade and has reached USD 2,824. Bangladesh is now a reliable partner in the international supply chain,” she said.

The premier said Bangladesh is a fast growing digital economy and a potential regional hub for connectivity and logistics.

“Our next vision is to build a ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041,” Sheikh Hasina said.

President of the conference and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani delivered opening statement.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, President of UNGA Csaba Korosi, President of the Economic and Social Council Lachezara Stoeva, and Malawi President and Chairperson of the LDC Group Lazarus McCarthy Chakawera also spoke.