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economic crisis

Meetings home in on regional impact and solutions to crisis

Nina Vucenik's picture

Regional finance ministers and development practitioners teamed up today to brainstorm solutions to the troubling economic crisis.

Young money changer on bank of Senegal River, the border between Senegal and Mauritania. Photo: Scott Wallace / World Bank Amid World Bank warnings that Africa is likely to be the worst-hit region by the global financial crisis, African finance ministers and Bank staff met today to determine the way forward in dealing with the impact of the global financial crisis on African countries.

Hosted by the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa, Shanta Devarajan, and chaired by vice president for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili, the meeting challenged participants to “think outside the box” in determining solutions to the negative economic, humanitarian and political effects the crisis already is having on the continent.

“The major challenge facing African countries and their development partners is how to design appropriate policies that would respond to this crisis,” Ezekwesili said.

She said sound macro-economic policies put forward by Africans over the last decade, which have, in part, led to significant growth rates, are now being questioned.

Flexibility, diversification, and regional solutions are key to combating the crisis, meeting participants agreed. Uganda Central Bank Governor Emmanuel Tumasiime-Mutabile advised flexibility of markets, of regimes, and of policies in order to stem the force of the crisis.

BBC World holds debate on global recession at World Bank headquarters

Angie Gentile's picture

BBC World Debates

 
BBC World yesterday hosted a debate at World Bank headquarters in Washingtonon on how the world's poorest are being affected by the global economic downturn and what can be done to avert a major international human disaster. While the rich world pours billions of dollars into banks and companies, why can’t it spare more for the poorest nations now suffering the effects of the downturn, asked BBC Host Zeinab Badawi.

The five-person panel–including World Bank President Robert Zoellick, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Mozambique Prime Minister Luisa Dias Diogo, Indian economic planner Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and activist Bob Geldof—agreed that a solution to the crisis can’t be business as usual and needs to come now.

Bob Geldolf at BBC World DebatesUnlike the tsunami of 2004, the victims of the financial crisis aren’t so easy to visualize, said Wieczorek-Zeul, making it harder for governments to commit aid money. But there are victims. An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 children will die annually as a result of the crisis, she noted.

Zoellick stressed that for those in the developing world, the crisis isn’t a matter of losing your financial cushion—it’s a matter of eating, of going to school. And the impact won’t end when the crisis ends; it will be felt over a generation.

Responding to the crisis with economic isolationism and protectionism will only hurt everyone, especially the world’s poorest, Zoellick added.

Prime Minister Diogo warned that if we don’t act, there is a potential for instability. “Instability increases nervousness… poverty increases conflict,” said Geldof.

A number of panelists noted that the G20 meeting in London last month was the beginning of the basis for a new global architecture.

“We’re living through an historic period,” said Geldof. “It could all still collapse. There must be new rules for a new world. We must include the most vulnerable on this planet. If not, the 21st Century is up for grabs.”

“We all agree that a global problem requires a global solution with global ownership,” said Ahluwalia.

The debate airs on BBC World on Saturday, April 25.

(More photos at the Spring Meetings Flickr set.)

Bank President unveils plans to deal with fallout of economic crisis

Angie Gentile's picture

World Bank President Robert B. ZoellickSpeaking at a news conference this morning ahead of the start of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Bank President Robert B. Zoellick hit on the need to address the second and third waves of economic fallout being felt in developing countries.

“First and foremost we need to ensure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. When financial crises hit Latin America in the 1980s and in Asia in the 1990s…basic health, nutrition and education budgets were cut back severely. This time we must ensure that governments can protect targeted social expenditures and finance effective safety nets,” Zoellick said.

Nor can infrastructure be neglected, he said, citing the long-term negative consequences of slashing infrastructure investment during past crises. To help promote investment in roads, electricity, telecommunications, etc.--as a means of creating jobs and spurring economic growth--Zoellick said the Bank is planning a massive infrastructure initiative, to be formally launched on Saturday.

Zoellick also highlighted the Bank’s plans to boost support for agriculture—increasing lending from $4 billion in 2008 to $12 billion over the next two years to help ensure food security.

    

See more photos at the Spring Meetings 2009 Flickr set.

Watch President Zoellick's opening remarks at the news conference below: