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UN urges Asia-Pacific nations to spend in social sector


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xThe United Nations has called upon the governments in Asia and the Pacific region to augment the spending on social programmes in order to sustain robust economic recovery and deliver the benefits of revived economic growth to the worst-affected people by the global financial crisis.              

The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2010 report, an annual publication of ESCAP, provides governments in the Asia-Pacific region, where 62 per cent of the world’s population live with a road map towards a more inclusive and sustainable development path.

The report pointed out that the region has seen a significant economic growth. While the region’s developing economies are likely to grow by 7 per cent, China will top the chart with 9.5 per cent growth followed by India’s 8.3 per cent.      

According to the survey, 2010 will be a complex year with rising inflationary prices, especially concerning food products, and asset price bubbles in a number of countries.

According to the survey, a sustained, long-term development for all economies within the region will have to rely on creating new engines of growth by rebalancing the region with greater regional consumption through increased intra-regional trade, accelerating the development of an Asia-Pacific consumer market.

The report makes a number of regional policy recommendations for inclusive and sustainable growth, such as strengthening social protection and enhancing financial inclusion.

Increased social spending would directly support income security for households by providing food security, education and access to health care, reducing the need by poorer families to maintain precautionary savings to protect against adversity. These families would then be able to contribute more to local economies and invest more in their own development, the report notes.

The survey is available online at: http://www.unescap.org/survey2010/

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The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

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An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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