Cautiously optimistic about the rebounding global economy, top business and government leaders have wrapped up their annual meeting with calls for economic growth to help the world’s poor and jobless who have taken to the streets in protest.
The five-day World Economic Forum met as Tunisia and Egypt were roiled by protests fueled by a lack of jobs and political inclusion, putting the issue of poverty and the implications of increasing insecurity high on the agenda.
“It is just imperative for all of us as companies and as countries to focus on saying that “I'm making our growth more inclusive,” said Chanda Kochhar Sunday, CEO, ICICI Bank."Gone are the days (when) it's just enough to say that some people will earn theirs, and then they will distribute," she said at a closing panel on the Global Agenda in 2011. "I think the model has to shift to the grass roots to say, ‘can we create enough basic stability plus employment generation opportunities for each and every of the small individuals ... to participate in growth."
The rising cost of food could also eventually force up the cost of other commodities and lead to politically risky inflation around the world, experts said.
Higher prices are seen alongside unemployment as one of the reasons for anti-government protests in Asia last year and more recently in the Arab world. While prospects and risks for the world economy dominated Davos discussions, there was also a growing focus on the impact of globalisation and the interconnectedness of the world via the Internet. The lessons of WikiLeaks, generated debate but no agreement on what governments, business and the Internet should do, and whether there should be any regulations.
“The mood is much better here, but I'm cautious,” said Zhu Min, former deputy governor, e Bank of China who is now special adviser to IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Ap