ADB for promoting employment

KATHMANDU: Creating conditions for good jobs and, more importantly, social protection programmes for those unable to find decent work is an urgent priority for governments in Asia and the Pacific, Asian Development Bank (ADB) vice-president Ursula Schaefer-Preuss told a conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, today.

Speaking at the conclusion of a three-day conference ‘The Impact of the Global Economic Slowdown on Poverty and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific,’ she said the recent global economic downturn has cut demand for the exports on which the region’s economies depend, forcing job cuts in many of the industries that send their goods overseas and slashing the incomes of thousands of people in the region. Many may struggle to find alternative employment.

“Before the crisis — in the context of high growth rates — only about half of the region’s young labor entrants could find decent jobs while the rest had to sustain themselves and their families through the informal sector,” said Schaefer-Preuss. “The need for social protection strategies to address the post-crisis labor market becomes more urgent with the prospect that growth rates may not reach the levels of just a few years ago.”

The conference, organised by ADB, together with the governments of Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China, ASEAN Secretariat and nine development partners, saw over 350 representatives from ADB, regional governments, civil society, intergovernment organizations and academe discuss the social impact of the global crisis and the need for social policy reforms.

ADB earlier this month forecast that the economy of developing Asia will grow 3.9 per cent this year, a sharp slowdown from the average eight per cent growth seen in the five years before the crisis. ADB expects the region to expand by 6.4 per cent next year. The slowdown in growth from pre-crisis levels means that at least 60 million Asians will fail to escape poverty this year.