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Pay more heed to social impact of financial crisis’


More attention should be paid to the social impact of the global financial crisis, a senior World Bank official said in Beijing on Thursday, likening it to a "man-made disaster".
Speaking at the National School of Development of Peking University, Vinod Thomas, the bank's senior vice-president, warned that the crisis would see a further 46 million people around the world having to eke out an existence on less than $ 1.25 a day.

Comparing the impact of this "man-made disaster" with natural disasters, he said: "In the Indian Ocean tsunami of Dec 26, 2004, people were immediately hurt and it was visible, and it took a little while for its economic impact to be felt."

But, Thomas pointed out, the global financial crisis is different. While the macroeconomic impact is immediate, the social impact is just about to extend from developed to developing economies. "Action must be taken before the situation gets worse," he urged.

The World Bank Group on Feb 12 estimated that the global economic downturn would force 46 million more people around the world to live on less than $ 1.25 a day, and an additional 53 million would have to cope with less than $2 per day.

Every 1-percent drop in the world's GDP growth rate means another 20 million people in poverty, said Thomas. "Our past responses to crises in the early stages have ignored the poverty impact," he pointed out.

Cheng Siwei, a former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, predicted that average global GDP growth may decrease to 1 percent in 2009 from around 2.5 percent last year. He made the remarks in a speech to the 13th China Capital Market Forum held at Renmin University of China in Beijing in January.

Around 20 million migrant workers have returned home after losing their jobs as the global financial crisis takes its toll on the Chinese economy, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.