World Economic Forum On East Asia Panel Calls For Governments To Do More To Achieve MDGs

Economists at a meeting of the World Economic Forum on East Asia called on governments to do more to meet the Millennium Development Goal targets, VOA News reports (Padden, 6/13).

The two-day forum, which concluded on Monday, focused on tackling “critical issues facing the region including rising demand for resources and its response to the ever-present threat of natural disasters,” Agence France-Presse reports (6/12).  

During a panel at the forum, Rajat Nag, managing director general of the Asian Development Bank, said despite the region’s impressive growth, “900 million people still live on $1.25 a day, 450 million people lack access to clean water, and more than 100 million children still die each year during childbirth,” VOA News writes. Asian governments must do more to fund basic nutrition, health and education programs, he said, adding that governments should raise taxes to cover the costs.  

“In Asia the average taxes collected as a percentage of GDP is likely under 10 percent. In the developed world it is easily 20 percent. So there is a huge amount of public resource mobilization which needs to happen. Not just by raising tax rates but by increasing the tax base, improving the tax collection,” Nag said.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs also participated in the panel. Countries that are undergoing rapid growth should make use of public and private initiatives to reduce poverty, said Sachs, who is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University (6/13).

“We need healthy growth globally, including in the developed world. One way or another, we all need to make structural adjustments to correct the global imbalances. Asia, more than any other region, can help achieve a strong, sustainable and balanced world economy. Asia must also lead the way to keep markets and societies open,” said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who also spoke on the panel, Xinhua reports (Aprilianto, 6/14).

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