by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 13 2022 (IPS) – As one of many world’s foremost worldwide humanitarian organizations, the United Nations has pledged to offer meals and medicines to cash-strapped Sri Lanka –a rustic affected by a serious monetary disaster.

As of final week, a UN group, led by the Resident Coordinator in Colombo, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy has appealed to worldwide donors for greater than $47 million in “life-saving help” to 1.7 million individuals in a rustic with a inhabitants of over 22 million.

This stands in distinction to the staggering $5.0 billion the federal government is looking for for the island’s financial survival through the subsequent six months—primarily for meals, gas and fertilizer.

Final month, the UN introduced that with a $1.5 million donation from the Authorities of Japan, the UN’s youngsters’s company UNICEF will procure medicines for over 1.2 million individuals, amongst them 53,000 pregnant moms and practically 122,000 youngsters with quick medical wants.

The World Meals Programme (WFP) is predicted to obtain about $1.5 million from Japan to offer meals help to youngsters and households in want of assist.

As well as, Australia has made accessible the equal of practically $5 million for meals safety, important medicines for ladies’s well being, vitamin knowledge assortment and evaluation with UN businesses working collectively, together with the Meals and Agriculture Group (FAO), the World Meals Programme, the World Well being Group (WHO), the UN Inhabitants Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Kids’s Fund.

At the moment, among the UN’s largest help recipients are both international locations embroiled in navy conflicts comparable to Ukraine, Afghanistan and Yemen – or the 46 member states categorized as Least Developed Nations (LDCs), “the poorest of the world’s poor”.

Nearly all of LDCs are from Africa, together with Angola, Rwanda, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Central African Republic, whereas the LDCs from Asia embrace Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Afghanistan.

Based on printed reviews, Sri Lanka’s international alternate reserves have hit a low of $1.9 billion, equal to funds that might finance lower than one month’s imports whereas its debt service repayments quantity to about $6.9 billion. Final month, Sri Lanka defaulted on its debt repayments for the primary time in historical past.

An editorial within the Sri Lanka Sunday Instances put the issue in its proper perspective: “As soon as known as the ‘Granary of the East’, Sri Lanka can be contemplating tapping the SAARC Meals Financial institution – from the buffer shares of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The nation is just not solely financially bankrupt, it’s dealing with a famine in a number of months”.

“From a middle-income nation not way back, it has come to this”, stated the editorial. “What an inglorious comedown for the nation and humiliating stigma for its individuals no higher personified by the presence of its International Minister and chairman of the ruling get together accepting a container of meals help from overseas on the Colombo harbour”.

“Caused by stupendously irresponsible agricultural coverage decision-making on the highest ranges of Authorities, it’s now humble-pie that’s left to be eaten as Sri Lanka appeals to the world for meals within the midst of a world economic system dealing with recession, inflation, and a hurricane of shortages of oil, gasoline and wheat.”

Ought to Sri Lanka, lengthy designated by the UN as a “middle-income nation,” be heading in the direction of the ranks of the 46 LDCs?

In an interview with IPS, Ambassador Anwarul Ok. Chowdhury, former Everlasting Consultant of Bangladesh and the primary Beneath-Secretary-Normal and UN Excessive Consultant for LDCs, Landlocked Growing Nations and Small Island Growing States, responded to questions on the advantages and privileges of being an LDC.

“LDCs profit from unique worldwide assist measures (ISMs) within the areas of commerce, growth cooperation and participation in worldwide organizations and processes.”

Such measures within the space of commerce, he identified, embrace preferential market entry for items and companies; particular remedy underneath World Commerce Group guidelines and sure regional commerce agreements; and technical help and capability constructing.

A spread of monetary and technical help supplied by multilateral and bilateral companions, comparable to particular programmes and finances allocations on the UN, together with the Expertise Financial institution for LDCs and Fund for LDCs, established by the United Nations Framework Conference on Local weather Change (UNFCCC). Assist for debt cancellation and/or debt rescheduling are additionally accessible for LDCs, he added.Different assist measures assist LDCs take part in worldwide boards, comparable to caps and reductions on contributions to the finances of the United Nations and monetary assist for representatives of LDCs to journey to Normal Meeting and different conferences, stated Ambassador Chowdhury, who was additionally Senior Particular Adviser to UN Normal Meeting President (2011-2012).

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Do you suppose that Sri Lanka, which has appealed for humanitarian help from the UN, could find yourself being a global basket case?

A: It isn’t conceivable that Sri Lanka would turn out to be a global basket case. But it surely must steer away from the man-made, to say extra immediately, the present corruption-driven economic system, in the correct route to return to its regular creating socio-economic growth of yesteryears.

Among the many eight members of SAARC solely three usually are not LDCs, however among the many different 5 LDCs, the Maldives have already “graduated” out of the LDC class and Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh are scheduled to graduate by 2026 (as their economies enhance).

Being the sufferer of a catastrophic financial mismanagement mustn’t immediate Sri Lanka to consider looking for an LDC standing. The United Nations defines LDCs as international locations which have low ranges of revenue and face extreme structural impediments to sustainable growth.

Q: If the state of affairs continues to deteriorate, what are our probabilities of becoming a member of the 46 LDCs?

A: Becoming a member of the LDCs group contain a protracted course of and requires success of all three standards to be eligible. Based on the UN, these three are:

1. Revenue: Nations will need to have a median per capita revenue (GNI) of under USD$1,018 for inclusion, and above USD$1,222for commencement.[The Gross Domestic Product per capita in Sri Lanka was last recorded at 4052.75 US dollars in 2020.]2. Human Belongings: Nations should even have a low rating on the Human Belongings Index (HAI), a software that measures well being and schooling outcomes, together with under-five mortality fee, maternal mortality, grownup literacy fee and gender parity for secondary faculty enrolment. [Sri Lanka is much above the “60 or below” threshold.]3. Financial and Environmental Vulnerability: Nations should rating excessive on the Financial and Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI), which measures components like remoteness, dependence on agriculture and vulnerability to pure disasters.[ Sri Lanka is below “36 or above” threshold. The current economic downturn and challenges faced by Sri Lanka may not fully fit the country’s EVI threshold]

IPS – How does this work? Does Sri Lanka have to use to the UN for LDC standing?

A: The Committee for Growth Coverage (CDP) opinions the record of LDCs and makes suggestions for inclusion in and commencement from the class each three years.

Based on UN tips, the timeframe of the eligibility process contains preliminary discovering that the nation satisfies inclusion standards; notifies the nation of its findings; prepares a rustic evaluation observe; gives a draft to the nation; finds the nation eligible and formally notifies the nation of eligibility conclusion; and the Normal Meeting lastly takes observe of the CDP suggestion.

Q: What’s the draw back of being an LDC?

A: In actuality, there isn’t a draw back besides the psychological notion of being categorized as one of many poorest international locations. Some say that international direct funding (FDI) is just not forthcoming.

If there’s a draw back, how come six international locations have “graduated” from LDCs through the years because the class was established by the Normal Meeting in 1971 and ten extra are within the pipeline for commencement by 2026.

IPS UN Bureau Report

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