Update on ESCAP and the Follow-up Process on Financing for Development
The Asia-Pacific region is diverse in character, and different countries give different emphases to the different dimensions of financing for development. For least developed countries, island economies and the economies in transition the key challenge is to mobilize concessional and domestic resources for development. For other countries, there is concern about falling FDI levels and the need to expand access to private sources of funding both through traditional banking channels and by participation in financial markets.
In development the provision of education and health services are key priorities in the region. The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2003 addressed the issues of education and health outlining their current provision in the region. The Survey 2003 also examines the problem of the insufficiency of public resources to expand education and health to satisfy the needs of all citizens and the need to augment their provision from the private sector. The Commission in its 59th session debated the policy options available under the agenda item Policy Issues for the ESCAP Region: Implications of Recent Economic and Social Developments.
To address the issue of bank finance the UNESCAP secretariat organized in October 2002, jointly with the Asian Development Bank, a seminar on Rejuvenating Bank Finance for Development in Asia and the Pacific. The economic crisis that affected several countries in the region in 1997 had its severest impact on the banking systems of these countries leading to the phenomenon of the 'credit crunch'. Rejuvenating banking is thus an urgent need if countries in the region are to regain their pre-crisis momentum of growth.
A substantial portion of external resources are in the form of debt (bank loans or bonds) whose optimal management raises major policy issues. In 2004, the secretariat is planning workshops on sustainable debt management. The workshop is expected to strengthen national capacity to formulate and implement effective policies in the management of external debt, specifically to minimize the burden of debt services on the countries concerned, and to provide additional sources of development finance for countries in the region.