2009년 12월 10일 목요일

Poverty to Rise in Europe and Central Asia by 2010, Says World Bank

By Kremena Krumova
Epoch Times Staff



Luca Barbone, director for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management in the World Bank's Europe and Central Asia Region, presents his findings on Dec. 7, 2009, in Sofia, Bulgaria. (Courtesy of World Bank)


SOFIA, Bulgaria—The financial crisis threatens over 40 million people in Europe and Central Asia with continued poverty and an additional 120 million people may reach the poverty line in the new year, states a World Bank regional report, “Crisis Hits Home—Stress-Testing Households in Europe and Central Asia.”

“One of the tragic impacts of the crisis has been that the middle income countries that had turned the corner are the ones hardest hit. Across countries in the region, unemployment levels have risen while economic activities have collapsed. Poverty will rise. Families are being stretched to the limit,” says the report.

Bulgaria was the first European country to hear the report first hand since it was formally launched on Dec. 2 in Washington, D.C. The report’s author, Mr. Luca Barbone, director for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region, introduced his findings in Sheraton Hotel Balcan in the capital Sofia on Dec. 7, 2009.

The event in Sofia was opened by Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy Mrs. Valentina Simeonova—invited were governmental officials, civil society representatives, think tanks and EU ambassadors.

The report revealed that during next year, a total of 160 million citizens in Europe and Central Asia risk losing their jobs, homes, and basic services. The substantial improvements in living standard reached in the last decade might reverse due to the strong economic slowdown in the region. The main shocks for households during the ongoing crisis are limited access to credit markets, increasing prices of goods and services, and rising unemployment.

“The countries which were the hardest hit by the crisis in Europe and Central Asia, are mostly the Baltic countries lie Latvia and Estonia. Turkey, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan were also among the severely impacted parts of the region,” Mr. Luca Barbone said.

For example, it is possible that up to 20 percent more families with mortgages and other loans in Lithuania and Hungary could be at risk of defaulting on their loans.

“Poland was the luckiest among all,” added Barbone.

(L-R): Valentina Simeonova, deputy minister of Labor and Social Policy of Bulgaria, Luca Barbone (World Bank) and Florian Fichtl (World Bank) on Dec. 7, 2009, in Sofia, Bulgaria. (Courtesy of World Bank)


When it comes to Bulgaria, the author of the report stressed it is “somewhere in the middle” and explained that this is due to the fact that the country is a member of the European Union and is still maintaining a currency board. Another reason for the relative cushion against the crisis is the reserves made by the government and the stable bank system.

Asked when he foresaw a turnaround of the crisis trend, Barbone answered that some of the Western European countries have already declared they’ve exited recession. He expects a growth of 2 percent to 3 percent in 2010-2011 but emphasized, that this growth is based on the current figures and is unstable. According to Barbone, the situation in Eastern Europe will depend on a large scale on the changes in the Western region of the old continent.

He added that the World Bank has proposed a package of measures to the countries’ governments, including avoidance of overboard cuts on state expenditures and restructuring these expenditures instead; expansion of social support programs; keeping expenditures for maintenance (e.g. road infrastructure); developing programs for socially useful labor (instead of unemployment); and facilitating and restructuring households’ expenditures to tackle the credit restrictions shock.

Apart from the advice to spend “smart,” Barbone said the World Bank helps economies in crisis with enormous financial resources. He stressed that the amount of money granted for tackling economic crisis by the World Bank increased by 30 percent in the last two years.


(http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/26222/, 20091211)

Uzbek workers get a bit of home at festival


Uzbek workers get a bit of home at festival
우즈벡 이주노동자, 축제에서 향수에 취하다



Jeong Se-jang, the president of Myeonsarang (third from left), Uzbek members of his staff and a group of Uzbek performers have a post-performance dance together at the National Theater of Korea on Sunday. By Shin In-seop

Sunday was a special day for 20 Uzbek employees who work for Myeonsarang, a local noodle and sauce manufacturer in Jincheon, Chungbuk. The employees were being treated to a performance of “Fragrance of Silk: Korea-Central Asia Culture Exchange Festival” at the National Theater of Korea in Jung District, central Seoul.

“My heart is bursting because I never would have imagined meeting the stars of my country here in Korea,” said one Uzbek employee, adding that the experience “helps make up for all of my hard days” as a migrant worker living in a foreign country.

After watching the performance, a mix of music and dance from the three Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the 20 employees were taken backstage to meet some of the Uzbek performers, including the traditional vocal quintet Surkhon and the eight-member female dance group Ofarin.

Soon enough, the members of Surkhon started singing and it wasn’t long before all the Uzbeks were dancing on stage together, the workers and the performers mingling merrily.

“These performers remind me of my wife and children living in Samarkand,” said 42-year-old Badu Nabiyev. He’s been working in Korea for the past five years.

“My youngest son just entered kindergarten. I miss him and my family,” said Nabiyev with tearful eyes.

“I feel like I’m home,” said 34-year-old Hasan Karakov. “It’s hard to find a word to describe my feeling now.”

Jeong Se-jang, the president of Myeonsarang, had words of high praise for his Uzbek employees. “Out of the 150 people working on our production lines, 32 are Uzbek. They are very hard-working,” said Jeong.

According to the Ministry of Labor, there are a total of 21,555 Uzbek people working in Korea as of February this year.

The festival features six companies including the Kazakh National Philharmonic Orchestra, Uzbek singer-songwriter Sardor Rakhimkhon and a traditional instrumental group from Turkmenistan.

It has attracted nearly 4,000 visitors on the first three days of its six-day run, which began May 15 and ends tomorrow.



Performances start at 8 p.m. and admission is free of charge. To get to the National Theater of Korea, go to Dongguk University subway station, line No. 3, exit 6. For more information, call (02) 751-9617, or visit http://culture.joins.com/centralasia.

(
http://migrant.kr/?document_srl=23996&act=trackback&key=544, 20091211)