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Economies of developing countries continue to grow but...


Accra, Feb. 9, GNA - As the United Nations Commission for Social Development began its annual session in New York on Wednesday, a senior official with the world body said that growth in developing countries was expected to continue in the period ahead, but cautioned that an expanding economy must be matched by efforts to cut poverty.

"From 2004-2006, developing countries will grow, on average, at a rate of 6.0 per cent, least developed countries will perform close to the average, and sub-Saharan Africa will score an "unprecedented" rate of 5.4 per cent," Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr Jos=E9 Antonio Ocampo told the Commission. In a statement issued in Accra on Thursday by the UN Information Centre, he attributed this trend to a combination of high commodity prices, low interest rates and increasing official development assistance (ODA) to the poorest countries.

"The continuation of this mix will be critical to the sustainability of this positive growth conjuncture," he said. "But growth is not enough." Mr Ocampo warned. "The pattern of growth is equally important, in particular, its capacity to generate decent and productive employment for the poorest sectors of society and its effects on income distribution."

Employment generation has continued to be generally weak in the developing world, despite rapid economic growth, according to recent estimates, while income inequality within countries has been rising in the majority of countries over the past three decades.

"In many countries, significant income inequalities between rural and urban areas point up the need actively to promote rural development as a strategy for successful poverty reduction," he said, calling also for efforts to achieve gender equality.

"The inclusiveness of economic growth is not an automatic outcome of market forces and should thus be built through explicit public policies," he emphasized.

In a keynote address to the session, Ms Clare Short, a Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom and Former Secretary for Development, said delegates were meeting at a major turning point in human history. "For the first time ever, we are capable of removing abject poverty, illiteracy and the diseases from the human condition," she said.

"The current intensification of global economic integration has demonstrated that there is enough knowledge, technology and capital to bring development to all the people of the world." But she warned that "our current way of life on the planet is completely unsustainable," adding: "The planet simply cannot cope with all the people living in this consumerist and greedy way." In response, she urged the creation of a new civilization marked by a "more moral and decent way to life." 09 Feb. 06