World Bank urges Obama to help fight global poverty

January 24th, 2009 - 1:14 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 23 (Xinhua) World Bank President Robert Zoellick has urged US President Barack Obama to do more to help fight global poverty, The New York Times reported Friday. Zoellick said fighting poverty was “much cheaper than bailing out AIG (American International Group)”.

“Starting with the US, Obama should call for each developed country to pledge 0.7 percent of its stimulus package to a vulnerability fund for helping developing countries that can’t afford bailouts and deficits,” Zoellick said in a column published by the newspaper.

“The US could begin by pledging some $6 billion of its own $825 billion stimulus package - just four percent of what was provided to the American International Group,” he said.

“With this modest step, the US would speed up global recovery, help the world’s poor and bolster its foreign policy influence,” he added.

The World Bank chief warned that there is no time to waste as “the economic crisis has already pushed an estimated 100 million people into poverty”.

“Drop in exports has threatened job cuts around the world. In many places foreign and domestic investments are frozen. So far we have avoided the currency collapses of 1997 and 1998, but 2009 will be a dangerous year,” he warned.

Zoellick noted that poor people in Africa should not pay the price for a crisis that originated in America.

“The total aid from the developed countries is about $100 billion a year, a modest sum in the light of the developing countries’ needs,” he said.

The UN’s target for aid is 0.7 percent of an economy, while the US contribution is about 0.2 percent, “although polls consistently show the American public is willing to contribute much more”, the World Bank chief said.

“Support for a vulnerability fund can help limit the depth and length of the international downturn, prevent the contagion of social unrest and help save a generation from a new poverty trap,” Zoellick stressed.

“For less than one percent of America’s stimulus package, President Obama can lead the G-20 in London and reintroduce America to the world,” he added.

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