MANILA, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Asian policymakers need to enforce more effective state actions to reduce high poverty incidence and sustain growth, according to a new study released Thursday by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the National University of Singapore (NUS).
"Asia's future prosperity will only be assured if countries continue the fight against poverty and other areas of deprivation, and this will require proactive state intervention," Kazu Sakai, director general of ADB's Strategy and Policy Department, said in a statement.
"As the deadline for the MDGs looms in 2015, this study provides a timely reminder of the vast unfinished business in the region and the steps needed to end deprivation across the board," Sakai said. The new study,"Ending Asian Deprivations", revealed that despite the gains posted by several Asian economies, more than 660 million people in the region continue to live in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than 1.25 U.S. dollars a day.
The study said that if you include those who are highly vulnerable and can easily revert to extreme poverty, this figure could rise to 1.5 billion people or nearly one in every two Asians.
The study said most Asian countries aren't likely to attain their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 as they still grapple with lack of basic sanitation, a big number of underweight children and high infant and maternal mortality incidence.
"This calls into question the current development paradigm based on a focus on maximizing growth, if such development leaves so many of Asia's citizens in dire poverty and hunger," the study said.
The study recommended that Asian governments need to support skills development, delivery of quality education, and incentives for entrepreneurs. These measures must be implemented with the private sector and civil society. Policymakers also need to encourage the growth of small-and-medium enterprises as they provide employment to a great number of people.
Asian policymakers also need to finance infrastructure development, improve urban environments, social protection programs, and remove gender inequities and labor market rigidities to boost employment opportunities.
The study also emphasized that any successful new development approach must have clearly defined goals, a definite timeframe, a credible strategy to achieve them, a detailed list of public interventions and tailored to address the needs of a specific country or region.