More social protection for Asians—UN

Published by rudy Date posted on March 18, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—For Asia to overcome the global economic crisis, the region needs to develop more robust social protection systems for its people, a top ranking United Nations official visiting here said Wednesday.

Ajay Chhibber, UN assistant secretary general, said going back to an export-dependent growth strategy is “unlikely” to solve the projected slower growth in the region.

“A much more Asian solution has to be found,” he said.

Instead, he suggested that Asia, which saves more than other regions, should start looking after its peoples’ welfare.

“Asia is very weak in these areas,” he said.

Some forms of social protection include welfare, labor market, social security, health insurance, micro-credit, child protection, targeted education, and health support programs.

Chibber, who is also assistant administrator at the United Nations Development Programme, said Asian countries should support each other. He said the $120-million Multilateralized Chiang Mai Initiative is a step in the right direction, calling it “important but not enough.”

The UN official also suggested that Asia avoid protectionist trade policies. “There should be more reliance on intra-Asia trade,” he said.

Originally, he said, Asia was thought to be immune to the effects of the global crisis. “Now many see that the crisis has a bigger impact on Asia than originally thought,” he said.

The effect of the crisis on the global economy is going to last longer and if it recovers, it would be much weaker than expected, he said.

At the London Summit of the world’s 20 biggest countries in April, Chibber said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon would speak on behalf of the rest of the world and ask that these countries allot a small portion of their stimulus packages to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.– Veronica Uy,

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