Poverty, inequality still an issue in developing nations

By Alexander Villafania

PASAY CITY, METRO MANIL A—Despite improvements to alleviate poverty in developing nations in the Asia Pacific region, a lot of work still has to be done to achieve growth and equality.

“The region still faces significant long-term challenges, high among these is the issue of rising inequality,” said Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda during the fourth Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors.

Unfortunately, while the region has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, the benefits of growth have yet to reach hundreds of millions of Asians who continue to struggle on less than $1.25 a day,” said Kuroda.

He added that the very drivers of Asia’s economic success–new technology, globalization and market-oriented reforms–have also served to create and increase disparities within and among Asian economies.

A previous report by the ADB already indicated the rising tide of poverty and inequality in the Asia Pacific region.

Income division among Asians is widening as the richest one percent account for six percent to eight percent of a country's total income. Meanwhile, the income among the rich continues to increase over time.

Such is the need of certain developing countries that ADB is securing $12 billion for its Asian Development Fund (ADF) to be used for social projects in recipient countries.

Kuroda stressed that the ADB is pushing for better governance among Asia Pacific countries.

Areas in need of better government policies include education, infrastructure, and employment generating sectors. These policies will be targeted at resolving inequality by giving people an opportunity to become financially capable, and is collectively called “inclusive growth.”

Incidentally, the ADB host country the Philippines has chosen “inclusive growth” as a theme for this meeting, reflecting on the program of President Benigno Aquino III that seeks to commit to a goal of economic growth.

The trudge to solving poverty may be a long shot but Kuroda said that he is optimistic that countries in the Asia Pacific region are able to maintain their growth prospects in the long term.

The ongoing ADB Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors is the first such event to be held in the Philippines in 12 years.

***

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