ADB urges developing Asia
Using crisis to spur economy and protect the poor:
As Asia begins to recover from the global economic crisis,
Governments in the region should look to expand social safety nets that
can both protect the poor and help spur economic growth, Asian
Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda said at the start of a
“Governments can use countercyclical stimulus packages not only to
reinvigorate the economy, but also to put in place measures that promote
more robust growth and reduce vulnerability,” Kuroda told the conference
on “The impact of the global economic slowdown on poverty and
sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.”
It was organized by ADB, with the Governments of Vietnam and the
People’s Republic of China, and the ASEAN Secretariat. It is the first
major conference dedicated to the social impacts of the crisis in the
Asia and Pacific region and has attracted around 350 delegates from 28
countries, 25 development agencies and embassies, and 13
Kuroda said that the crisis should be seen as an opportunity to take
proactive measures that lay the groundwork for inclusive and sustainable
development over the long-term.
“Crises such as this one provide the chance to initiate structural
reforms for social development,” he said.
Protecting against huge health expenditure, for example, helps the
poor directly, but also benefits the economy as people with less need
for large “precautionary savings” are likely to increase consumption, or
save and invest more productively, Kuroda said.
ADB estimates show that if the region’s growth had not been stalled
by the crisis over the past year there would be 60 million fewer people
living below the $1.25 a day poverty line, and around 100 million fewer
‘near poor’ or those living below $2 a day.
While the crisis decimated jobs across income lines, Asia’s poor have
been especially hard hit, in part because of a lack of adequate social
safety nets to cushion their fall from the slowdown in economic
Many governments in Asia have responded swiftly to the crisis with a
broad range of fiscal stimulus packages, typically focusing on major
infrastructure rollouts, tax reductions, trade and industry promotions,
as well as projects targeting the poor.
Kuroda said that in the long run, the key challenge for developing
Asia will be to enhance its resilience to external shocks.
“It can do so through policies aimed at broadening the scope and
structure of the region’s openness and strengthening national systems
that support human development,” he said.
Practical steps include fostering intra-regional trade, managing
financial globalization, maximizing the benefits of labor mobility, and
investing more in education, health, and social protection.
ADB has set up a countercyclical support fund to help its developing
member countries weather the consequences of the current global crisis.
ADB supports its developing member countries in ways that play to its
comparative advantages and core business areas such as infrastructure,
trade facilitation, education, financial reform and regional public