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‘Least Developed Country’ status, allows special funding

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 24, 2009) – Finance Minister Sila Molisa is leading a four-member team to New York to argue Vanuatu’s case before the UN Committee for Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) to keep Vanuatu in the LDC Category [Least Developed Country] along with Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Remaining in the Category is vital in order for Vanuatu to continue to benefit from LDC special privileges.

Accompanying the Minister are the DG to the Prime Minister’s Office Semion Athy, Finance’s First PA Augustine Garae and the Governor of the Reserve Bank Odo Tevi.

[PIR editor’s note: According to Chinese news service Xinhua, LDCs are defined by the United Nations as the world's poorest nations, allowing special treatment, particularly in terms of trade and aid to support their development priorities. The benefits of being in the LDC group include eligibility for the US Millennium Challenge Account Fund. ]

Using data based on three kinds of indexes namely income per capita index, human asset index and economic vulnerability index, the UN wrote to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in November of last year giving the Government three years to argue our case against graduating from LDC Status.

DG to the Prime Minister’s Office, Simeon Athy said the Ambassador of Fiji to the UN and our own Ambassadors Donald Kalpokas, Vanuatu’s UN Ambassador and Vanuatu Ambassador in Belgium, Roy Mickey Joy will be part of the team in the talks.

Following this trip and in line with the procedures, on February 15 Vanuatu is expected to submit a written submission to the UN to justify our position to remain in LDC Category.

The DG said one main argument is that the indexes are based not on Vanuatu’s real situation mainly because all relevant public institutions were not consistent with providing their necessary data for UN use as expected.

"The DG of the Prime Minister’s Office will call on all Government institutions to provide all required data to help us to ask UN to change the rules of graduation because for example, our country is made up of 80 inhabited small islands which are vulnerable to natural disasters including cyclones and earthquakes," Athy said.

Daily Post was informed that Vanuatu’s on going funding such as the MCA, IF, and other Overseas Development Assistance and direct aid support may come to an end should this New York meeting suggest that Vanuatu graduates out from the LDC in the next three years.

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