A senior United Nations official says corruption across Asia is undermining efforts to fight poverty and reduce income disparities. In a wide ranging interview with VOA, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, the UN’s executive secretary for the Asia and Pacific Economic and Social Commission, said countries must invest in what she called social protection to ensure economic growth in Asia.
“You know the issue is governance. Because at the end of the day you need economic governance. You need better political governance because to be able to have systems that invest in the social foundations of your communities in order that people can have a better life. And obviously any forms of corruption acts against that.”
The Asian Development Bank recently called for improvements in government accountability as “critical” in Asia to maintain social and political stability. It said rising corruption was evident in a “deterioration in the quality and credibility of national political and economic institutions.”
A World Bank Institute report warned of a retreat in accountability and political stability in Asia between 2008 and 2009. In India, for example, the World Bank found only 40 percent of government funds allocated for poverty-related programs actually reached the poor. The remainder, the Bank said, was lost because of bad administration and corruption.
Dr. Heyzer warned that despite recent regional economic gains, widening income disparities needed to be addressed by governments through improved social protection programs.