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The 2016 United Nations (UN) Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Least Developed Countries (LDC) Report was launched by the Acting Minister of Development Planning also Minister of Trade and Industry Mr. Joshua Setipa at the event held in Maseru on Wednesday.

Speaking at this occasion, Mr. Setipa said the launch of the report has come at the right time, however, indicated that a challenge still remains on how development agendas are domesticated. 

He said every government and society need to develop so to get out of poverty, saying that it is essential for countries to get out of the LDC Category.

He stressed the need for national pride adding that countries should graduate as economic vulnerability is a challenge that needs right planning. 

He said regional integration is important for Lesotho and other countries in order to achieve economic development and move out of the LDC category, adding that African countries should promote trade within themselves.

Mr. Setipa said Lesotho is a small country that could do better than it is currently doing if governments including that of Lesotho could maintain stability in order to help countries get out of the LDC categories, saying as long as we are perceived unstable, we will not achieve the development agenda.

The Economic Affairs Officer UNCTAD Mr. Giovanni Valensisi stated that graduation is the time when a country gets out of the LDC category to join the other Developed countries. He said the process emphasises flexibility adding that key drivers of graduation include social stability together with social and economic planing to mention a few.

He pointed out that it is estimated that by 2025 at least 16 countries will have graduated, but economic vulnerability remains a challenge for countries to achieve goals and proneness to natural disasters could also affect countries from graduating.

Mr. Valensis smooth transition is essential in order to avoid disruption into the graduation process and he recommended that stable and development oriented intentional environment is crucial. 

Speaking at the same occasion, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Development Planning Mr. Tlohelang Aumane indicated that the launch has provided opportunity for discussion of pertinent issues. 

He called upon the media in Lesotho to focus more on development and create more interest in the public on how to make Lesotho a better country. 

Mr. Aumane indicated that development partners are important for us to achieve our goals as a country adding that they must show commitment.

Senior Economist in the Ministry of Development Planning Ms. Motulu Molapo said there were challenges towards implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA). She indicated that Lesotho is vulnerable to natural and economic shocks adding that most Basotho still rely on agriculture for livelihoods, stressing the need for long-term resilience to climate change.

She further said that lack of coordination, financial resources, environmental challenges and insufficient data were some of the challenges in implementing the IPOA. 

The LDC category was created in 1971 with the aim to target international support for countries that need it most. According to the UN, there are 48 countries which fall behind the rest of the World in terms of economic development.

According to the 2016 UNCTAD LDC Report,” following several years of apparent resilience to the international and financial crisis, economic growth in the least developed countries has declined steeply since 2012, reaching a low of 3.6 percent in 2015”.

'This is the lowest pace of expansion this century and far below the target rate of at least 7 percent per annum recommended by the 2011 Programme Of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020 (the so-called Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), says the Report.

Source: LENA 14/12/2016

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