UK agrees to sponsor LDC assessment

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Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela.
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By Mike Puia

Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela.

THE United Kingdom has agreed to sponsor an assessment to be carried out by the Commonwealth on the country’s graduation out from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) list.

Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela said the assessment is necessary to help the country prepare well.

Prime Minister Hou said based of the timeline provided, there are risks presented to this country in its ability to graduate out from the LDC list.

Solomon Islands and Kiribati were the two latest island nations to be recommended by the United Nations to be removed from the list.

The LDCs represent the poorest and weakest states in the international community and countries with this status are afforded a number of operational privileges within trade and development assistance in order not overburden them.

The LDCs are assessed using three criteria: health and education targets, economic vulnerability and gross national income per capita.

Countries must meet two of the three criteria at two consecutive UN triennial reviews of their status to be considered for graduation.

When the two island nations were assessed, they achieve strong gains in these assessments over the six-year period.

Prime Minister Houenipwela said this recommendation needs to be assessed.

He said he has meet the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, and raised the point to her that Solomon Islands agriculture, forestry, education, health and other broad economic sectors and new population statistics needs to be properly assessed.

Prime Minister Hou said it appears the assessment that resulted in the recommendation to have this country graduated was done at the time the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands was in the country boosting the economy.

He said by this year to next year the economy will be stable which will see its true pace.

He said population data is another issue as data used during the assessment was based on estimate figures from the 2009 census.

Prime Minister Hou said he told the Commonwealth Secretary-General these which she agrees.

But, he said the country has no fund to carry out such assessment.

Prime Minister Hou said he had a meeting with the British Minister of State (Asia & Pacific), Mark Field, and they discussed UK’s interest to upgrade its activities in the pacific more so in the Solomon Islands.

He said it was during this meeting that he asked if UK can fund the assessment which he agrees.

Prime Minister Hou said his government will commence work on a Terms of Reference for this assessment.

He said the country has missed out in getting the issue through the UN but it will get it through the G77, the entire group that decide on countries to graduate out from the LDC list.

The Prime Minister has been having meetings with world leaders who also attended the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru.

The Prime Minister returned to the country on Saturday.

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