In April 2013, the World Bank set a new goal to end extreme poverty in a generation. Our target is to have no more than 3 percent of the world’s population living on just $1.25 a day by 2030.
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Thailand Economic OutlookThailand has made an impressive transition from a low income country in the 1980s to an upper-middle income country by 2011. How can Thailand grow even faster and become a hig... Show More +h income country?Countries that have made that jump into the high-income-country league in the last few decades, such as South Korea or Taiwan, China, sustained growth averaging above 5% per year for 20 or more years. Can Thailand follow suit? That’s the million dollar question. In fact, it’s the first of three questions I would like to pose today.The second key question is: how can Thailand’s growth continue becoming more inclusive? Poverty in Thailand has fallen. In 2000, 20% of Thais spent less on their basic daily needs than the national poverty line. In 2010 only 10% of Thais lived below the poverty line. And inequality has fallen too. More and more Thais are benefiting from economic growth. The Gini measure of consumption inequality in Thailand fell over the last 20 years, from 42 percent in 1994 to 39 percent in 2010. This is good news.The challenge is that inequality remains high, almost 40 percent consumption inequality is high by international standards. And Thailand’s income inequality has fallen as well, but at 52 percent in 2010 remained the highest among East Asian countries.How can Thailand reduce inequality further so that all Thais benefit from economic growth? I believe that improving education and skills will be essential for higher and more inclusive growth in the long run. Let’s look at the PISA scores. These scores measure the reading, math, and science skills of 15 year old students and they are a key measure of education outcomes of countries around the world. Thailand’s PISA scores are below the scores of OECD countries, and that they have stayed low over the last 10 years.But the scores in Bangkok are comparable to those in the US. The key challenge is improving education outcomes outside Bangkok. In other words, it’s about education opportunities for all Thai students, especially those outside Bangkok. Over time, with improved, strong education outcomes, Thailand will be able to grow more rapidly.I will conclude with the third key long-term challenge we see for Thailand, and indeed for East Asia and the world – that of climate change and environmental sustainability. In Thailand, one key issue is the energy intensity of the economy, and especially Thailand’s transport sector. Thailand’s transport energy intensity is currently one of the highest in the world among non-oil producing countries. It is more than twice that of China and more than 3 times that of South Korea and Japan.One for the high energy intensity of Thailand’s transport sector is the heavy reliance on road transport. More than 85% of freight transport is by road while only 2% is by rail. Envisaged transport infrastructure investments such as in the dual track rail and mass transit for transportation in Bangkok could help reduce energy intensity. These investments are a major opportunity for Thailand.In closing, I would like to highlight that I see many opportunities for Thailand in this thriving region. Opportunities for faster growth, more inclusive growth with improved education and opportunities for all Thais, and environmentally sustainable growth.The World Bank is committed to being Thailand’s development partner as we have been for more than 50 years. We will be happy to work with Thailand and its people in the many years to come. Thank you very much. Kob khun krub. Show Less -
We are meeting at an extraordinary time. Three years ago, the developing world wasexperiencing its most rapid economic growth in four decades. We talked of the globaltransfer of skill-enhancing techno... Show More +logies, the powerful catalysts of trade, investment, andcapital flows, and whether the developing economies were decoupling from thedeveloped economies.Three crises later, things are dramatically different. 60 million people remain trapped inextreme poverty (measured as living on under US$1.25 a day ppp adjusted), as a result ofthe food and fuel crisis, and the effects of the global slowdown from the financial crisisare only just beginning to be felt in low income countries.Every 1% decline in the average GDP gross rate for the developing world thrusts anadditional 20 million people into extreme poverty. For regions like Sub-Saharan Africa,with 54% of its population aged below 20, the impact can be devastating.Poverty numbers mask the true nature of poverty. Extreme poverty has the face of awoman and a child. It disguises the infant mortality, the hunger and malnutrition, thelack of access to health care and education, and it disguises the pain of social exclusion.It is a dangerous time. Governments in the developed world are absorbed with theirdomestic policy agendas. They have taken on new roles as investors and guarantors oflast resort, and are running government balance sheet risks and exposures that weresimply unimaginable.The poorest and most vulnerable on the planet are becoming politically and sociallydisenfranchised and disconnected from global society. Most of these people are born anddie without leaving a legal record or official trace of their existence. They hunger forinclusion, to belong, to have opportunities and access to services and property rights, andto feel empowered.In our past conferences, we have talked about how the work of developmentorganizations and faith-inspired institutions is linked. We share similar passions forsocial justice, good governance, and building hope for individuals and communities, withdignity and empowerment.Now is the time to strengthen the links between development organizations and faithinspiredinstitutions. Our partnership is needed more than ever.Your institutions make a tremendous difference to people’s lives. In many Africancountries, you provide 30 to 70% of the health services, and in post-conflict countries, themajority of primary education services. You deliver innovation and results, and youspeak courageously about ethical challenges, injustice, and failures in governance.You have enormous influence on family and individual’s beliefs, attitudes, andperceptions. You motivate and mobilize communities and influence decisions oneducation and health – decisions that have long term effects on personal development andopportunity. Your impact will become even more critical as official donors facedomestic pressures to focus more of their spending on their own citizens.In the Bank, we are strengthening our work on faith and development to better supportgovernment partners and faith-inspired organizations. Though our funding is channeledto governments, we can support your institutions by:expanding the dialogue between governments, development partners, and faithinspiredorganizations. We are seeing this in the international health partnershipwhere partners are emphasizing the value of civil society organizations andfunding their engagement;sharing successful experiences of faith-inspired organizations in delivering socialservices, e.g. our work with the World Council of Religions for Peace in creatinga directory of faith-inspired organizations in Central America, and our work withthe Fe why ALEGRIA Jesuit Movements in Latin America to draw insights onthe delivery of education services;supporting faith-inspired organizations through analytical work and capacitybuilding, especially on monitoring and evaluation by using household surveys tomeasure the quality and cost of services; andgiving a stronger voice to faith leaders as done in recent community developmentprojects in Togo.We have a unique opportunity and responsibility to work together to protect the mostvulnerable. Together, we need to advocate at local and global levels for better policiesand for more resources to help governments strive to meet the millennium developmentgoals.Over the next two days, we have a wonderful opportunity to share experiences and learnfrom each other. We need to value and respect our differences but, above all, we need tolearn more about how we can build stronger partnerships to provide hope and opportunityfor the poor. Show Less -