Latin American, Caribbean nations must tackle effect of food crisis on poor – UN

Latin American, Caribbean nations must tackle effect of food crisis on poor – UN

José Luis Machinea, ECLAC Executive Secretary
Mitigating the impact of rising food and fuel prices on low-income groups must be a priority for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, a senior United Nations official has stressed at the start of a regional meeting taking place in Santo Domingo.

As the 32nd session of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) got under way yesterday in the capital of the Dominican Republic, the body’s Executive Secretary outlined a number of issues that the region must address in light of a global situation characterized by economic deceleration, high inflation and rising oil and food prices.

José Luis Machinea said the first priority was to mitigate the impact of rising food and energy prices on low-income groups through subsidies, lower taxes and similar measures.

Also, more resources should be allocated – through special donations from developed countries – to agencies that can alleviate the situation in the poorest countries, he told delegates from nearly 40 countries.

In addition, Mr. Machinea stressed the need for cooperation between the public and private sectors, as well as broad agreements among all social and political actors to improve social cohesion and embark on a path toward sustained growth.

“The good news is that Latin America faces new opportunities. To take advantage of them, we must be capable of building a basic consensus that will enable us to develop a country perspective, and hopefully, a regional one,” the Executive Secretary stated.

The current session, which ends on Friday, guides the work of the Commission – headquartered in the Chilean capital, Santiago – and sets the priorities of its work programme for the following two years.