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Tuesday, August 07 , 2012 - 6.00 GMT
Equity must accompany economic growth – Prof. Peiris


The South Asian experience indicates that economic development alone does not ensure empowerment of the vast mass of society and that, to achieve this objective, interventions by the State are essential, External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said in Dhaka on Sunday.

He was delivering a keynote address during the inaugural session of the international conference on “People’s Empowerment and Development” convened in Dhaka by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. This initiative is a sequel to the Resolution introduced by the Government of Bangladesh and adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations at its plenary meeting in December last year.

The conference was attended by representatives of forty countries. The inaugural session was addressed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Dr. Dipu Moni, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh. Prof. Peiris was invited to join them as a lead speaker.

In order to illustrate the themes of the conference, Minister Peiris presented an analysis of the innovative programmes being implemented in Sri Lanka to ensure that the benefits of economic growth reach the most vulnerable segments of society, providing access to livelihoods and incomes. He explained, from this standpoint, the nutrition and savings aspects of the divi neguma programme.

A special focus on the development of infrastructure, to encourage the spread of investment to remoter regions, social safety nets in the form of affirmative action in a variety of fields, practical approaches to poverty alleviation, with special emphasis on access to micro credit, and weightage to underprivileged areas in formulating policies for admission to Universities and recruitment to the public sector, were some of the issues which Prof. Peiris sought to highlight in his address. Measured and discriminating intervention in each of these sectors should be a hallmark of State policy in the South Asian region, he said. The Minister identified trends and values in economic policy formulation, applicable to the region as a whole.

The conference which brought together policy makers from across the world, dealt with a wide range of thematic issues which included eradicating poverty and hunger, reducing inequality, mitigating deprivation, accelerating human development and counter terrorism.


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