Stronger antipoverty drive urged
The Asian Development Bank has urged member-countries to implement stronger antipoverty measures, noting that inequality in the region has been increasing as economies grow.
Iwan Azis, head of the ADB’s Office of Regional Economic Integration, said in a forum Tuesday that squarely addressing the growing gap between the rich and poor should be a main goal of member-countries as they integrate their economies.
“The challenge for Asia is to address the growing inequality. Despite the region’s [economic] resilience, it is not doing well in terms of solving inequality,” said Azis.
For most countries in the region, he said, the Gini coefficient has increased, indicating widening disparity in incomes across classes.
Gini coefficient is a key measure of equality/inequality, where zero indicates perfect equality (where all people have the same share in the economy’s income) and 1 indicates perfect inequality (where income is owned by just one individual).
In the Philippines, data showed that the Gini coefficient in 2009 was 0.430, higher than the estimated 0.429 in 1994.
Southeast Asian economies are gearing toward integration, aiming to become one economic bloc between 2015 and 2020.
Azis said the ADB supports integration but added that governments should aim for a scenario where the economic benefits of integration are enjoyed not only by selected sectors of society but by everyone.
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