JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Southeast Asia poverty to surge in 'socio-economic crisis': U.N.

Friday, July 31, 2020, 10:26 GMT+7
Southeast Asia poverty to surge in 'socio-economic crisis': U.N.
A plastic cup with the words "help us" is held by a jeepney driver who lost his livelihood amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, on a roadside in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, July 30, 2020. Photo: Reuters

JAKARTA -- Southeast Asia is on the brink of a “socio-economic crisis” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that could reverse decades of poverty reduction, the United Nations has warned.

“The crisis threatens to destroy the livelihoods of Southeast Asia’s 218 million informal workers,” a U.N. policy brief released on Thursday said.

“Without alternative income, formal social protection systems or savings to buffer these shocks, workers and their families will be pushed into poverty, reversing decades of poverty reduction.”

The region-wide economy was expected to contract by 0.4 per cent in 2020, it said, while remittances from Southeast Asians working abroad were likely to fall by 13 per cent or $10 billion.

The paper urged nations to fix “fiscal termites”: budget-sapping problems like tax evasion, transfer pricing and fossil fuel subsidies so they can deliver large stimulus packages to help vulnerable populations and boost their economies.

Current low oil prices provided an ideal opportunity to reverse fossil fuel subsidies, it added.

In Indonesia, the region’s most populous country, fossil fuel subsidies in 2020 will exceed its entire COVID-19 social assistance and stimulus measures, the U.N. report said.

As well as boosting social welfare payments, Southeast Asian nations should prioritise higher health spending, said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, head of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Six of the 11 countries in the region - including its two biggest nations, Indonesia and the Philippines - received the lowest rating for health spending on the U.N.’s five-tier human development index. Three others were on the second-lowest tier and the remaining two were on the middle tier.

The report covered the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia and Timore-Leste.


Read more




Vietnamese youngster travels back in time with clay miniatures

Each work is a scene caught by Dung and kept in his memories through his journeys across Vietnam

Experience summer sand-boarding in Mui Ne

Sand-boarding, a popular activity amongst local children in the coastal tourism town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam, is attracting hundreds of tourists to the Red Sand Dunes

Young maple trees given better protection as Hanoi enters rainy season

The trees are currently growing well, with green leaves and healthy branches.

Hunting skinks for food in southern Vietnam

Skink meat is known to be soft, tasty, and highly nutritious.

Vietnamese-made app allows people to grow real veggies via smartphone

Nguyen Thi Duyen, a young engineer in Hanoi, developed the app and its related services to help busy people create their own veggie gardens.

Latest news