Reducing Social and Economic Gaps Key to Sustaining Growth in East Asia and the Pacific
Viet Nam's Vice-Minister of Finance Truong Chi Trung and UNICEF's Director for the East Asia and the Pacific Region, Dan Toole, speaking at the press launch of the Conference on Public Policy, Social Policy and Children that is taking place from 24-26 September 2012. © UNICEF/2012/Vietnam/Bisin
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 24 September 2012 – The Conference on Public Policy, Social Policy and Children, organized by Viet Nam Ministry of Finance and UNICEF will take place from 24-26 September 2012. Government representatives from 17 countries across East Asia and the Pacific will participate in the regional meeting and discuss ways to align fiscal and social policies to sustain growth in the current uncertain global economic environment and to reduce growing disparities that put future growth at risk.
The conference aims to strengthen coordination between key public finance and social policy makers across East Asia and the Pacific so they can identify quality investments in children that will reduce disparities and equip societies for a prosperous future. Viet Nam Minister of Finance Vuong Dinh Hue and UNICEF Regional Director of East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Tool will make remarks to open the conference.
Economic growth in the region over the past two decades has been tremendous. It has lifted millions of people out of poverty. Critical social indicators have also shown remarkable progress. There has been a 68 per cent drop in child mortality since 1990 and the vast majority of the region’s children now receive a primary school education.
This success, while laudable, hides growing disparities in many countries and the deepening poverty for millions of people. Disaggregated data shows that far too many families in the region are still bypassed by both the economic and social benefits of this newfound prosperity. They do not have access to essential social services like healthcare and education, because they are poor, because they live in rural or remote areas, because they are migrants, or because they belong to minority ethnic groups.
“Disparities come with a cost – a cost to children, to families, to societies and to nations,” said Dan Toole, UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific. “Economic development and social development are inseparable. Economic policies that enhance human capital by improving the health and nutrition of a population, improving access to, and the quality of education, and preventing child maltreatment, contribute significantly to the fiscal well-being of countries.”
“Global economic instability persists. This poses a risk to the financial stability of current social policies to protect children and promote equality”, said Vuong Dinh Hue, Viet Nam Minister of Finance. “Even though some favorable social policies have been adopted or strengthened in recent years, protecting children from crises and reducing disparities are still an unfinished agenda”.
The Minister also emphasized that the Government of Viet Nam has paid special attention to social policies in general and policies to support children in particular.
The conference is expected to strengthen the cooperation between Viet Nam, UNICEF and other future participating countries.
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