January 11, 2011, New York - Minister of State for Finance and Treasury, H.E. Mr. Aslam Shakir, speaking today at the meeting of the 1st Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries, highlighted the importance of „smooth transition‟ for countries graduating from LDC status. Although the Maldives considered graduation to be an achievement, he said that the Maldives must not move towards the reality of life as a Middle- Income country with its “eyes wide shut”. On the contrary, he said that we need to be fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead for the Maldives with the loss of LDC benefits and strive to overcome those challenges by speeding up its market based and private sector led economic reforms.
“A young, dynamic competitive economy such as the Maldives, with a world class tourism sector, has nothing to fear from the greater competition that will come with its full integration into the world economy. On the contrary, we have much to gain”, he said. However, he also stressed that graduation should not occur abruptly or in a haphazard manner, but rather should occur as a carefully calibrated process based on the UN –endorsed concept of smooth transition. Hence, the urgent need to clarify, at the UN level, what smooth transition actually means in practice for both graduating countries as well as development partners.
State Minister Aslam Shakir lamented that the Maldives had received little or no support from the UN process as it prepared for graduation during the last three years. He stressed the need to address this deficiency in the system as more countries are expected to be graduated from the LDC category during the next decade.
Meetings of the 1st Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least expected are being held at the UN, New York from 10 to 14 January, 2010. In addition to State Minister Aslam, the meeting is also being attended by Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Hussain Niyaaz.