Press briefing on UN Economic and Social Survey of Asia and Pacific 2017

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ENGLISH 08-May-2017 00:20:56
Press briefing on the UN Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2017
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Sebastian Vergara, Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
Poh Lynn Ng, Associate Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations DESA

Although the recent economic expansion of countries in Asia and the Pacific has been steady, it is modest compared with the recent historical trend owing to prolonged weak external demand, rising trade protectionism and heightened global uncertainty. At the same time, decades of rapid economic growth, facilitated by globalization and technology, came at the expense of rising inequalities and environmental degradation. Addressing such economic, social and environment challenges in a coherent and decisive manner will be critical for the region’s future.

In view of such challenges and the terms of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2017 highlights the importance of better governance and effective fiscal management. In particular, it is found in the Survey for 2017 that the quality of governance affects development outcomes through its impact on the composition and efficiency of public expenditure. At the same time, weak governance partially explains the low levels of tax revenues in several countries in the region. Governance has impacts on the way public revenues are raised, especially its effects on tax morale, as the willingness to pay taxes is affected by perceptions of how well tax revenues are used.

It is argued in the Survey for 2017 that transparency and accountability in public administration can be improved and strengthened by ensuring the production of and access to key data and information, and by developing public administration capacities to monitor, evaluate and audit policies and actions. Inclusive institutions, where public service beneficiaries can exchange views with the Government, could also be instrumental for raising tax revenues and making expenditures more efficient. The Survey also highlights the role of e-government, information and communications technology and decentralization in improving governance in the context of fiscal management.

In the Survey, it is further emphasized that the potential benefits of better governance are large and wide ranging, including better health outcomes in the Pacific, economic diversification in North and Central Asia, decent jobs in South and South-West Asia, ecological innovations in East and North-East Asia and the narrowing of development gaps in South-East Asia.
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