Interesting, the different perspectives on the ILO report on the LDC’s development. Terraviva emphasis is on the lack of change and New Kerala emphasis is on uneven growth. One gives the impression of no change, the other that change just needs to be tweaked. I have not been to any of the LDC’s, although I have been to India which has regions that are like as poverty stricken as the worst LDC.
The USA is retrenching and the Republican Congress wants to cut off financial aid to countries around the world. Not that the US gives much compared to EU countries, but if they have their way there will be even less aid to go around. What these countries need is to have debt relief. Let them wipe this debt off their books, and focus on development assuming they have governments in that are capable of taking advantage of such a windfall.
It is strange that a country like Angola, with all its oil wealth, is still an LDC, mostly a result of the long war perpetuated by the USA giving weapons and financial aid to the rebels for so long. It was one of the ironies of history that Cuban troops were protecting US oil wells in Cabinda province while the US was also funding the rebels who were trying to blow up those wells. Africa has long suffered from exploitation from outside and corruption from inside. It suffers from both an overabundance of do-gooders, rapacious rulers, and cynical manipulators. What it needs is a good dose of realistic disinterested leadership rising from within. Africans ultimately need to help themselves and the world would do best to let them. But it is a complex situation, like all things in the world and Africa is no longer an isolated entity, it is well integrated into the world economy and is essential to the running of the world economy if only as a source of raw materials. It is essential that the African people are acknowledged for their part in the world system and receive their fair share of the wealth created. We all participate in creating the total wealth of the world and there is no reason why it should be hoarded in a few nations at the expense of the rest of the world.
Least Developed Countries Stagnate Under Ailing Strategies
By Kanya D’Almeida
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 30, 2011 (IPS) - A report released Tuesday by the International Labour Organization (ILO) for the Fourth Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) slated to take place in Istanbul, Turkey in early May expressed a strong critique of the snail’s pace of development, but stopped just short of calling for radical new policies to be implemented.
The report, entitled “Growth, Employment and Decent Work in the Least Developed Countries”, solidified widespread fears that the “graduation” rate of LDCs was abysmally low, with only three countries out of 51 – the Maldives, Botswana and Cape Verde – moving out of the category since it was created by the United Nations in 1970.
Addressing a panel at the U.N. headquarters Tuesday, Jose Manual Salazar-Xirinachs, the executive director of the employment sector of the ILO, said that even the minor recorded growth was falling far short of acceptable economic and social returns, making the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the world’s poorest 48 countries an unlikely possibility.
“Productive capacity in agriculture and manufacturing remain limited, exports are too concentrated, employment grew at a mere 2.9 percent from 2000-2009 and the majority of workers in [LCDs] remain trapped in vulnerable forms of employment that cannot lift them from the poverty line,” Salazar- Xirinachs said.
He added that the ILO hoped to contribute solutions to these imbalances through a two-fold policy aimed at “accelerating sustainable growth while simultaneously improving the quality of growth” in a more a diversified production structure and a more socially-inclusive and job-rich pattern.
However, he did not elaborate as to how these slightly modified policies, which nevertheless constituted a “business-as-usual” approach, would suffice to address the devastating levels of poverty, economic degradation and mounting income inequalities in countries still suffering from the debilitating impacts of centuries of colonialism and decades of neoliberal development agendas.
“Business as usual is not sufficient,” Sir Richard Jolly, an honourary professor at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and a member of the U.N. secretary-general’s newly-appointed Group of Eminent Persons (GEP) on LDCs, told IPS.
“Trade reforms in agriculture are urgent and essential, especially because a high proportion of the poor in LDCs are dependent directly or indirectly on agricultural production…Strengthening agricultural production in these countries often means improving local markets and limiting cheap exports from COP 8 countries where agricultural production is subsidised,” he added.
A report released ahead of the summit in Istanbul by the GEP made clear that “increasing marginalisation of the LDCs is creating a future that we, as a global community, cannot afford.”
“Of course, economic growth alone is not the only test of progress. There is need for human development, which is sustainable, attention to the priority issues of poverty reduction, MDG achievement and attention to environmental sustainability for the medium and longer run,” Jolly told IPS.
While this rhetoric is hopeful, and possibly even inspiring to some, many experts believe that it is quickly becoming obsolete.
Kouglo Lawson Body, the director of economic policy for the International Trade Union Confederation-Africa, stressed that his organisation, which represents 16 million workers from 48 African countries, was less focused on finding solutions to community-level problems than it was in understanding and analysing global trends that lead to local challenges.
“We need real reform in global governance to free the LDCs from the dominion of international institutions and even from some of the emerging developed countries,” Body said.
“Giants like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are too concerned with influencing the decisions and strategies of LDCs, particularly in Africa – this is a trend that needs to change on systemic level,” he added.
Omar Dahi, a professor of Economics at Hampshire College, echoed Body’s words and stressed the need for more autonomy for former colonies.
“It’s possible for a country like Angola to achieve over 10,000 to 15,000 dollars per capita GDP in the next few years, but that means very little for the majority of the population,” Dahi told IPS.
“Additionally, recent events in the Arab world indicate that, regardless of development, people will rebel against authoritarian rule even if they are experiencing decent economic growth, such as in Tunisia. This should make everyone question the so-called ‘Chinese model’, which has become popular in the last decade,” he said.
“Neoliberal globalisation, with the trinity of liberalisation, deregulation, and privatisation, has not delivered,” he added. “Instead, it has exposed the most vulnerable populations to the vagaries of the international market and rising commodity prices, while making LDCs more and more desperate for attracting foreign investment.”
Dahi insisted that LDCs needed to be freed from the constraints of structural adjustment policies, which work greatly to their disadvantage.
“Writing off LDCs’ debt (rather than debt relief) is a first step to reversing this legacy, since there are estimates that the poorest countries pay 90 million dollars daily in debt payments. Recovering an appropriate role for the state in those countries is another step. Once policy space and some autonomy are recovered, grassroots organisations can thrive,” he concluded.
UN List of LDC’s
Burkina Faso #
Central African Republic #
Democratic Republic of the Congo
São Tomé and Príncipe *
United Republic of Tanzania
Solomon Islands *
Lao People’s Democratic Republic #
Latin America and the Caribbean (1)
* Also SIDS
From new Kerala.com
Economic diversification to boost LDCs: UN New York, Mar 30: Diversifying production rather than relying on commodity exports is crucial to boosting the economies of the least developed countries (LDCs), a quarter of the world’s total, according to a United Nations report slated to be issued on Tuesday.
“Growth in the last decade has been high but volatile because it has been based on exports of primary commodities rather than a diversified production structure,” the study by the UN International Labour Office (ILO) says, calling for sectoral and export diversification away from commodities to manufacturing.
The report – Growth, Employment and Decent Work in the Least Developed Countries – has been prepared for a conference on LDCs to be held in Istanbul from 9 to 13 May, which will seek to promote a 10-year programme for food security, decent work, disaster risk reduction, climate resilience and clean energy growth in the 48 LDCs.
Recognizing the potential for economic improvement in the LDCs, it stresses that learning lessons from “islands of success” in some countries is “critical to design and implement new policies to facilitate large-scale access to productive and remunerative employment.”
“The primary labour market challenge in the Least Developed Countries is not unemployment but productive employment and decent work for the large numbers of working poor,” ILO Director General Juan Somavia said.
“This is the main obstacle to the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and set the Lower Developed Countries on a sustainable development route,” he added, referring to the eight ambitious targets set at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, which aim to slash hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality, a host of diseases and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.
Providing figures and trends for 2000-2009 period, the report shows that employment in LDCs has grown at an annual average rate of 2.9 per cent, slightly above population growth but much weaker than the gross domestic product (GDP). Most of the increase took place in the services sector, with industry accounting for a mere 10 per cent of total employment in 2008, up from 8 per cent in 2000.
The share of wage and salary workers increased slightly, from 14 per cent in 2000 to 18 per cent in 2008 but the large majority of workers remained trapped in vulnerable forms of employment that cannot lift them above the poverty line.
“Massive deficits in public infrastructure, education and skills” are constraining a more sustainable and balanced growth strategy, resulting in a weak increase in productive employment, especially for young people, with a high level of working poverty, vulnerable employment, informality and low productivity.
The report stresses what it calls the “heterogeneity” of the LDCs, showing that some regions and some countries have done better than others in their patterns of growth, investment, reducing poverty and social protection, among others. “LDCs at least need to model themselves on their peers who are currently doing better,” it says.
It calls for coherence between macroeconomic frameworks promoting job creation and poverty reduction and policies to support the building of productive capacities in industry and agriculture, infrastructure and a critical mass of job-creating sustainable enterprises.
It also advocates better social protection as well as cash transfers schemes and public employment programmes targeting vulnerable groups, especially women and youth.
Among other policy suggestions, the report calls for implementing labour market and social policies that encourage the transition from the informal to the formal economy, protecting the incomes of the most vulnerable groups, and setting up a range of labour market institutions to cover areas such as employment protection legislation and minimum wages.
Collective bargaining and freedom of association have important developmental impacts, it adds.
Of the 48 countries currently designated by the UN as LDCs, 33 are in the African region, 14 in Asia and Oceania and one (Haiti) in the Caribbean.