02/09/2007, 00.00
ASIA
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Asia has richest economies and poorest people

The president of the Asian Development Bank sounded the alarm and warned governments that economic growth is not a solution; health and education funds are called for.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The gap between rich and poor in Asia is becoming ever wider and the staggeringly swift growth of some economies on the continent is not providing an answer to the problem.

The alarm was sounded by the president of the Asian Development Bank, Haruiko Kuroda, during a conference in Vietnam that gathered some of the world’s leading donors together to study ways and means of how to best distribute wealth and humanitarian aid to Asian peoples.

The process – known as “Managing for Development Results” – is aimed at identifying an optimal solution to ensure that donations reach those in greatest need with less money wasted through mismanagement and corruption.

Kuroda said: “China and India in particular are experiencing widening income gaps. Asia is home to many of the world's fastest growing economies - and that growth has lifted millions of people out of poverty. But the benefits of growth have not been spread equally. While many have become better off, many more remain left behind.”

The economist continued: “Growth in itself is a not a solution to the problems of the continent. Rapidly growing economies have shown that although absolute poverty has been reduced substantially, the income gap between the poor and the rich has widened. That means that in coming years many Asian economies must be mindful of this big problem."

Kuroda made an appeal to governments: “Spend more on health and education and improve conditions in rural areas to address the gaps between rich and poor.”

According to the World Bank, more than two-thirds of the world’s poor live in Asia. In the eastern part of the continent alone, there are 585 million people who live on less than a dollar a day. Of these, 375 million are Chinese, 100 Indonesian, 40 Vietnamese, 35 Filipino and the remaining are scattered across the rest of the region.

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