East Asia and Pacific
The future is unpredictable and yet, from time to time, we must take stock of what we accomplished and where we are heading. Over the past decade, better policies and rising integration with the global economy have pushed growth in South Asia upwards. By 2007, the peak year just before the global financial crisis, the region’s GDP growth had reached nearly 9 percent a year (just slightly behind East Asia’s). This growth acceleration extended to all the countries of the region.
The global financial crisis took South Asia’s growth down by about 3 percentage points (from 8.6% in 2007 to 5.6% in 2009). This was the smallest growth decline among all regions of the world and the prospective recovery is already underway. The World Bank expects GDP growth to recover to nearly 7 percent per annum on average in 2010-2011.
Dipak Dasgupta, a Lead Economist at the World Bank, points to four key factors that have cushioned South Asia’s growth decline during the crisis and are helping in the strong recovery.
(1) Remittances held up much stronger in South Asia than in other regions. In Nepal, the reliance on remittances is the highest, and without these flows, growth in consumption would have collapsed.
(2) The resilience of some key export-oriented sectors also helped. Garments in Bangladesh and IT software exports from India, for instance, have held up relatively well.
The winds of change are blowing in Malaysia, as the government is taking on an ambitious agenda of structural reform. The objective is to climb up the income ladder and join the league of high-income economies. This is a difficult challenge – one which not many countries have successfully met in the post-war period.
Against this backdrop, the World Bank’s launch of a new report on the Malaysian economy (full disclosure: I lead the team who authors the report) is timely. The Malaysia Economic Monitor, which will be published twice a year, aims to provide context to the challenges facing Malaysia and serves as a platform for discussion and the sharing of knowledge.
If you haven’t already taken the time to do some development-related Googling after last week’s announcement that World Bank statistics are now available through the ubiquitous search engine’s public data tool, I’d suggest exploring the exciting new feature. Now, anyone can easily access 17 World Development Indicators by searching for them in Google. Give it a try by searching for the GDP of China or CO2 emissions of Indonesia or exports of Thailand – or another country and any of these indicators.
When you click on the search result, an interactive chart page shows you how the data have changed over time and allows you to compare to other countries (or the world). (You can also embed the chart, like the one below.) For example, take a look at how the GDP growth rate of China compares to Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in the last 50 years.
To further explore the data, check out another nifty tool, also launched last week by the World Bank. DataFinder lets you research more about these development indicators and see how they look on an interactive map. Read more about DataFinder here.
Clutching two crystal globes at Friday's DM2009 awards ceremony was David Manalo of the Philippines, who won with two of his three finalist projects -- one for "bell and bottle" rain gauges to provide an early warning system against storm-caused floods and landslides, and the other to put 2,000 to 2,400 people rural people on the electrical grid through floating hydropower generators.
"I didn't expect this," he said, elated but a bit dazed from his and his projects' double honors. "Winning once would make me more than happy."
Manalo's brother, Eugenio, a partner in the early-warning project, stayed behind in the Philippines to aid victims of recent typhoons. "I will call him, but not right now – he's sleeping," said David, at 1 a.m. Manila time.
|Prince Philip and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discuss the Buddhist 8-Year Plan at an event dedicated to faith and conservation. (Photo courtesy of ARC/Richard Stonehouse)|
Is transparency delayed, transparency denied? How about when disasters, such typhoons or earthquakes, strike? Should transparency and citizen access to information as regards the disbursement of calamity funds be considered a priority? Or should transparency temporarily take a back seat during disasters with all efforts going into emergency response?
Yesterday I attended a presentation at CGAP on responsible finance, which featured three excellent guest speakers, including Fe de la Cruz, Director of Corporate Affairs, Central Bank of the Philippines (the other guests included a former member of the Brazilian Central Bank, and Daryl Collins, co-author of Portfolios of the Poor).
|David Manalo's organization wants to distribute unique floating generators to provide electricity to people in a remote part of the Philippines.|