India likely to give additional funds to LDCs

"Of the total 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), we will be hosting 35 ministers and also about 45 permanent representatives in New York for the India-LDC Ministerial Conference on February 18-19," India's permanent representative to the UN Hardeep Puri told reporters here.

Asked if India would announce additional concessions to LDcs, Puri said "my expectation is yes. I think it will be only appropriate that we allow the announcement of those additional...contributions to be made at appropriate political level."

He said it would be only logical to make such announcements as there will expectation from the countries participating in the conference 'Harnessing the positive contribution of South-South Cooperation for development of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)'.

Apart from LDCs, Finland, Australia, Slovenia, China, Hungary, Croatia, Georgia, European Union, the US, Germany and Hungary will also attend the meeting as observers, he said.

The objective of the Conference is to provide inputs to the 4th UN-LDC Conference to be held in Istanbul in May this year, which is expecting an ambitious outcome, one which would allow at least 50 percent of the countries to reach the threshold of graduation by 2020.

The Istanbul Conference is the fourth in the series of the UN-LDC Conferences held so far: the first two in 1981 and 1991 were held in Paris and the in Brussels in 2001. LDCs represent the most vulnerable and the poorest segment of the international community. Of the 48 LDCs, 33 are in Africa, 14 in the Asia Pacific region and one in Central America.

These 48 countries account for approximately 815 million people, of which 50 percent live below the poverty line and the criteria for classifying a country as an LDC are based on: per capita income; human asset index; and economic vulnerability index.

Apart from providing an opportunity to the government to hear from the Foreign Ministers, Ministers and Permanent Representatives of LDCs about their requirements for development, it would also be an occasion for India to share with LDCs the nature and state of our development cooperation with them, Puri said.

India currently has several assistance initiatives to address special needs of LDCs, including Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme, Duty Free Quota Free scheme, Africa E-connectivity Project and Lines of Credit.

Giving details of India's financial interests in such countries, Puri said that since 2003, the total Indian FDI into such countries was USD 35 billion including both private as well as government. The United Nations had established the LDCs as a separate category of countries in 1971.

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