Laos is on its way to graduate from the Least Developed Countries list
The country has met two of the three criteria required for a better status. The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita reached US $ 1,996, above the 1,230 threshold. Still, in some parts of the country, at certain times of the year, people earn less than $ 0.12 a month. About 70 per cent of the population of the five northern provinces live below the poverty line. About 44 per cent of Lao children under the age of five are stunted.
Vientiane (AsiaNews/RFA) – For the first time since it was ranked by the United Nations as one of the world’s Least Developing Countries (LDC), Laos has fulfilled the eligibility criteria to be removed from the list and could see its status upgraded as early as 2024, this according to the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Last month, in its triennial assessment. New York-based ECOSOC’s Committee for Development Policy (CDP) announced that Laos had met two of three criteria – Gross National Income (GNI) per capita and for the Human Assets Index (HAI) – required to move above LDC status. The Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI), which measures resilience to shocks and stability, has not yet been met.
The CDP has noted that if Laos can support its development improvements and meet again the criteria in 2021 (even just two out of three), it will be "formally removed from the LDC list in 2024".
The CDP noted that the GNI per capita of Laos, which was first put on the LDC list in 1971, had reached US ,996 in 2018, above the threshold of US ,230 or more, whilst its HAI had reached 72.8, above the threshold of 66 or more. By contrast, Laos’s EVI stood at 33.7, close to the threshold of 32 or below.
The announcement that Laos had met eligibility requirements follows decades of promises by the ruling Communist Party that its management of the economy would see the country graduate from the list by 2020.
However, some experts point out that most Laotians are still very poor and conditions for them have not improved that much.
In some parts of the country, at certain times of the year, people can earn less than $ 0.12 a month. About 70 per cent of the population in the five northern provinces live below the poverty line and, if Laos leaves the LDC list, it would get less foreign financial assistance.
According to an assessment last month by the World Bank (WB), Laos's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by an average of 7.8 per cent over the past decade thanks to the development of its natural resources, which contributed about a third of growth.
According to the WB, Laos has halved poverty, reduced hunger, and improved education and health outcomes in recent years, but continues to lag in other key areas – most notably on child nutrition, with an estimated 44 per cent of its children under five being stunted.