Large-scale government stimulus packages are closed off to many nations across Asia and the Pacific, the top United Nations official for the region told a gathering of senior finance and central bank representatives, promoting a cooperative approach to jump-starting economies out of the global recession.
“We need to recognize that not all countries have the fiscal space to implement counter-cyclical measures at significant scales due to budget constraints,” Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said yesterday.
Shrinking resources and other fiscal issues have left several countries in the region with little room to manoeuvre in their efforts to reignite suffering economies, Ms. Heyzer said in a message to the regional high-level workshop on the role of monetary, fiscal and external debt policies in responding to the financial crisis.
In her address, Ms. Heyzer pointed to the international community’s response to the crisis and noted that the Asia-Pacific region, with over $4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, can work together to spur recovery and restore economic growth.
Ms. Heyzer added that ESCAP can bring countries together to share experiences and coordinate their development activities for greater regional results, as exemplified by the high-level meeting in December 2008 in Bali, Indonesia, on the food and fuel hike, financial market meltdown and climate change crisis.
“The huge scale of government spending in the pipeline in many countries offers an unprecedented opportunity to design policies that will bring about more inclusive and sustainable development,” she told participants at the four-day workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The ESCAP workshop looking into various economic policies used by governments in the region to deal with the global financial crisis, hosted by the Bangladesh Bank, has brought together top officials from the finance ministries and central banks of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.
Also attending are experts from international organizations, including those from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank and civil society organizations.