Poverty December 13, 2016 | 4:20 pm

Despite high growth, 1 of every 3 is poor in Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo.-The World Bank published todaya report that maintains that although Dominican Republic is one of thecountries with highest growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, still one of everythree Dominicans is poor.

During a ceremony at the National Palace, thepresident of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina and the World Bank’s vicepresident for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar, launched aseries of policy notes that offer priority options to keep the country in a sustainableand inclusive growth path in the context of the global economic slowdown.

"Tirelessly fighting for povertyreduction is one of our key 2016-2020 government goals. The policy optionspresented today by our important partner, the World Bank, will be an importantinput into our efforts to reduce extreme poverty in the Dominican Republic byhalf, as set out in the Comprehensive Plan for Overcoming Extreme Poverty,"said Medina.

In a statement, the internationalorganization notes that the Dominican Republic has enjoyed one of the highestgrowth rates in Latin America in the last 25 years. "In the last twoyears, the proportion of Dominicans living in poverty (with around 152Dominican pesos per day) has also dropped substantially from 36.4 percent in2014 to 32.3 percent in 2015."

The report however also highlights thatsocial spending in the Dominican Republic remains low compared to the rest ofthe region.

It indicates that, on average, 1.6 percent ofGDP in health compared to the regional average of 4.5 percent. In addition,deficiencies in the reliability and quality of water and electricity servicesare affecting the main drivers of growth, including tourism, agriculture andmanufacturing.

"The Dominican Republic is one of thefastest growing economies in Latin America and the Caribbean and is well placedto take advantage of its successes and advance in inclusive growth," Familiarsaid. "We hope that the policy notes presented today will contribute tothis effort by focusing on the need to boost competitiveness and improve publicservices as well as resistance to climate change in the country," headded.

The series of policy notes "To build abetter future together" stresses three priorities to bring greater andsustained prosperity to all citizens:

1-Increased productive inclusion, through alabor market with better human capital and greater participation of women,links between foreign investment and local economy, and increasedcompetitiveness.

Despite recent advances in ease of doingbusiness, the Dominican Republic can still improve access to financing forsmall businesses.

The report proposes to improve the linksbetween companies located inside and outside the special economic zones, andthe generation of the necessary competences in the labor market.

2-Public spending that is sufficient andeffective in the context of a limited fiscal space. Dominicans have experiencedsubstantial progress in school enrollment and health insurance coverage, butstudents 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 continuousefforts to expand educational services, professional incentives, and moreefficient and integrated social services to help ensure coverage for the mostvulnerable. Low-quality coverage of water and sanitation, electricity andinformation and communication technologies (ICTs) must also be ensured.

3-Increased resilience to climate change andnatural disasters, and improved natural resource management to sustain highlevels of growth.

The Dominican Republic is highly exposed toextreme weather events and the impact of climate change. The inclusion ofclimate risks in fiscal risk management strategies, the promotion ofintelligent agriculture for climate and ecosystem services will be key inhelping the country to be better prepared for climate change and naturaldisasters, the report notes.

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