2009 Oct 03
October 3, 2009

Focus on decent jobs, says ADB

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HA NOI Asia-Pacific governments should focus on creating the conditions for good jobs and social protection programmes for those unable to find decent work as they face slower economic growth in the coming year.

The Asian market which is export-driven has been hard hit by the recent economic slowdown as the demand for exports has largely declined, forcing job cuts and slashing the incomes of thousands of people in the Asia and Pacific regions.

Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank said “Before the crisis, in the context of high growth rates, only half of the region s young labour entrants could find decent jobs, while the rest had to sustain themselves and their families through the informal sector.”

She spoke at the conclusion of a three-day conference titled “The impact of the global economic slowdown on poverty and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.”

As the Asian economy was forecast to sharply decline from an average 8% over five years before the crisis to only 3.9 per cent this year, the need for social protection strategies to address the post-crisis labour market would become more urgent, she said.

This crisis struck different countries in different ways. According to Ayumi Konishi, country director of ADB s Viet Nam Resident Mission, Viet Nam had 1.57 million new entrants coming into the labour market. Unless the economy kept growing, those people would remain jobless.

“That s why the stimulus package is largely being spent on infrastructure, because construction involves creating a lot of new jobs,” he said.

“The conference is a good opportunity to exchange experiences between countries”, said Nicholas Rosellini, UNDP Deputy Director for Asia and Pacific Region, “Viet Nam has good experiences to share in poverty reduction. We also discussed the quality of growth and the need of countries in the region to protect social expenditure and to invest in the areas that benefit the poor.”

Ursula Schaefer-Preuss said the large stimulus packages have provided fiscal space to address immediate social effects, but social spending has represented only a small share of such packages. Governments should act to improve their targeting of social spending by undertaking structural reforms and directing resources.

She also said that the ASEAN Secretariat intended to take proactive measures based on the conference findings. VNS