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World Bank Chief Seeks Measures Against Pandemic-Induced Poverty, Predicts Grim Outlook For Developing Countries 

World Bank Group’s president, David Malpass
World Bank Group’s president, David Malpass

October 14, (THEWILL) – The World Bank Group President, David Malpass, has said that the pandemic environment arising from the COVID-19 crisis is pushing up poverty around the world.

He also stated that while the world suffers from a dramatically uneven recovery from the pandemic, the outlook remains grim for most of the developing world.

Malpass made these disclosures on Wednesday at the opening press conference of the ongoing Annual World Bank Meeting in Washington.

He noted with concern the tragic development reversal being witnessed across the world which has created a setback in progress already recorded in reducing extreme poverty.

According to him, the worsening inequality across country groups has impacted negatively on the per capita income in advanced economies which is growing nearly 5 percent in 2021, compared to only 0.5 percent in low-income countries.

“As you know, the world is suffering from a dramatically uneven recovery. Inequality is worsening across country groups. Per capita income in advanced economies is growing nearly 5% in 2021, but that is compared to only 0.5% in low-income countries.

“The outlook remains grim for most of the developing world. There’s high inflation, there’s too few jobs, there’s shortages that extend to food, water, and electricity,” he said.

Taking a deeper look at the pandemic-induced poverty environment, the World Bank boss stated that nearly 100 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty to add to the existing numbers.

As a consequence, the world is witnessing a tragic reversal in development as the progress in reducing extreme poverty has suffered a setback.

He canvassed for urgent policies to be redirected towards both the advanced economies and developing countries to boost growth and investment.

“As we look at development, the pandemic is pushing up poverty around the world. It’s already pushed nearly 100 million people into extreme poverty. That’s the added number in extreme poverty.

“We’re witnessing a tragic reversal in development.  The progress in reducing extreme poverty has been set back by years – for some, by a decade.

“And it’s vital that we address this head-on by redirecting policies in both the advanced economies and developing countries so that growth and investment are more widespread,” he said.

Malpass pointed out that some of the pandemic-induced disruptions witnessed in world trade would not be transitory as the rise in the final costs of goods due to bottlenecks in logistics and supply chains worsens.

The World Bank boss said that the factory and port shutdowns going on in different parts of the world is part of the cause for sharp price increases in shipping fees amid sharp increases in the backlog of orders.

“We see sharp increases in the backlog of orders. Our estimates suggest that 8.5% of global container shipping is stalled in or around ports. That’s twice as much as in January of 2020.

“These disruptions are placing sharp price increases on shipping fees, and the final costs of goods, and some of them will not be transitory. It would take time and cooperation of policymakers across the world to sort them out,” he said.

Concerning access to vaccines and people taking the jab, Malpass said that the Group places the highest priority to it as a measure to accelerate recovery and ameliorate the poverty impact on the developing economies, adding that he had chaired the Multilateral Leaders Task Force towards this objective.

He said, “Our highest priority is to secure access to vaccines and speed up shots in arms. I chair the Multilateral Leaders Taskforce, which includes Kristalina [Georgieva, IMF Managing Director], Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General], and Ngozi [Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director General].

“We had a good public discussion yesterday and we’ll soon be holding our fifth meeting of the Taskforce focused on matching the extensive pledges and trying to help actual vaccinations come out of the pledges that have been given by the advanced economies. There’s got to be a way to close that deployment gap.”

He said that the World Bank is able to finance the doses and the deployment, emphasizing on the need for early deliveries schedules so as to secure the co-operation of governments that have sufficient doses to swap early deliveries  so as to allow for vaccinations in developing countries.

To achieve this, Walpass said the Bank is urging the finance ministers and health ministers of developing countries to enter contracts in order to get early deliveries of vaccines and accelerate vaccination rate.

According to Walpass, “The World Bank’s support for the poorest countries is at an all-time high.

“I’m pleased, the World Bank now has 250 million* doses under contract with Bank financing. Those deliveries will be going on in the coming months, and that is very important to saving lives.”