Bangkok, Nov.19 : Ajay Chhibber, the head of the U.N. Development Program's regional bureau for Asia and the Pacific, has warned of the prospect of social unrest in Asia because of the global meltdown.
He told the Washington Post in an interview here that the slowdown in major markets such as the United States and Europe poses fundamental problems for Asian economies that have used exports to fuel their extraordinary growth. Chhibber said there are still 900 million Asians living below the World Bank poverty line, defined as an income of less than 1.25 dollars a day, Chhibber said, adding, "There are another 300 million who just came out of that group, so they are literally on the margin."
"If you have lower growth, you have rising unemployment, and that makes all these people very, very vulnerable," he said.
Chhibber said it was not just a short-term problem.
Chhibber said governments should concentrate on producing expansionary, job-friendly budgets, but he warned that would not be enough.
"Having stronger safety nets for these people will also be vital because otherwise you will see a lot of unrest on the streets," he said.
Chhibber said the recent drop in commodity prices had created problems as well as opportunities for Southeast Asian nations -- problems because rural incomes have fallen, but also opportunities because inflationary pressure has been reduced.