Santo Domingo.-The World Bank published today a report that maintains that although Dominican Republic is one of the countries with highest growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, still one of every three Dominicans is poor.
During a ceremony at the National Palace, the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina and the World Bank's vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar, launched a series of policy notes that offer priority options to keep the country in a sustainable and inclusive growth path in the context of the global economic slowdown.
"Tirelessly fighting for poverty reduction is one of our key 2016-2020 government goals. The policy options presented today by our important partner, the World Bank, will be an important input into our efforts to reduce extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic by half, as set out in the Comprehensive Plan for Overcoming Extreme Poverty," said Medina.
In a statement, the international organization notes that the Dominican Republic has enjoyed one of the highest growth rates in Latin America in the last 25 years. "In the last two years, the proportion of Dominicans living in poverty (with around 152 Dominican pesos per day) has also dropped substantially from 36.4 percent in 2014 to 32.3 percent in 2015."
The report however also highlights that social spending in the Dominican Republic remains low compared to the rest of the region.
It indicates that, on average, 1.6 percent of GDP in health compared to the regional average of 4.5 percent. In addition, deficiencies in the reliability and quality of water and electricity services are affecting the main drivers of growth, including tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.
"The Dominican Republic is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and the Caribbean and is well placed to take advantage of its successes and advance in inclusive growth," Familiar said. "We hope that the policy notes presented today will contribute to this effort by focusing on the need to boost competitiveness and improve public services as well as resistance to climate change in the country," he added.
The series of policy notes "To build a better future together" stresses three priorities to bring greater and sustained prosperity to all citizens:
1-Increased productive inclusion, through a labor market with better human capital and greater participation of women, links between foreign investment and local economy, and increased competitiveness.
Despite recent advances in ease of doing business, the Dominican Republic can still improve access to financing for small businesses.
The report proposes to improve the links between companies located inside and outside the special economic zones, and the generation of the necessary competences in the labor market.
2-Public spending that is sufficient and effective in the context of a limited fiscal space. Dominicans have experienced substantial progress in school enrollment and health insurance coverage, but students continue to perform poorly compared to other Latin American countries, and under-five mortality rates remain high (31 per 1,000 people From 2015).
To address this, the country needs continuous efforts to expand educational services, professional incentives, and more efficient and integrated social services to help ensure coverage for the most vulnerable. Low-quality coverage of water and sanitation, electricity and information and communication technologies (ICTs) must also be ensured.
3-Increased resilience to climate change and natural disasters, and improved natural resource management to sustain high levels of growth.
The Dominican Republic is highly exposed to extreme weather events and the impact of climate change. The inclusion of climate risks in fiscal risk management strategies, the promotion of intelligent agriculture for climate and ecosystem services will be key in helping the country to be better prepared for climate change and natural disasters, the report notes.