700 million people still live in extreme poverty – World Bank

The World Bank has called on countries to ensure well-designed structural reforms in order to unlock growth and build the foundations for future prosperity.

World Bank Group President, David Malpass gave the advice in Washington on Thursday in his opening remarks at the 2019 Annual Meetings Press Conference.

He said problems facing countries included oligopolies, excessive public-sector employment and pension promises, and subsidies for goods, services and financing.

“I’m aware of the strong resistance to many reforms. But they’re crucial for enabling broad-based, sustainable growth”, Malpass noted.

“Global growth is slowing. Investment is sluggish, manufacturing activity is soft, and trade is weakening. The challenges of climate change and fragility are making poor countries more vulnerable.

“This backdrop makes our goals of reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity even harder. About 700 million people still live in extreme poverty. That’s about one in 12 people on the planet.

“With the right mix of policies and structural reforms, countries can unleash growth that’s broadly shared across all segments of society. This is especially true in emerging markets and developing countries, where well-designed reforms can deliver meaningful gains”.

The World Bank urged governments to ensure material impact in terms of broad-based growth, transparency, the rule of law, and private-sector expansion.

“Many countries have already used up their fiscal and monetary-policy space, so structural reforms are essential. Over $15 trillion in bonds have zero or negative yields, which amounts to frozen capital. Debt has climbed to troubling levels. We need fresh thinking to reignite growth.”

Malpass further restated the mission of World Bank to assist countries grow.

“We’re helping countries build strong programs tailored to the unique circumstances of their economies. We’re encouraging innovations that attract private-sector investment, such as digital money. We’re promoting the rule of law and transparency in debt management and public finances.

“We’re investing to help countries gain access to electricity and clean water, ensure the full inclusion of girls and women, address climate change and protect the environment, improve health and nutrition, and bolster infrastructure.

“We’re launching a new approach to measure learning. It looks at the proportion of children aged 10 who can read and understand a basic story. We want to reduce learning poverty as much as possible”, he added.

Ng daily

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