Latin Americas economic outlook dismal as global financial crisis takes toll –

The gross domestic product (GDP) of the 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries will grow a projected 1.9 per cent in 2009, a marked drop from the 4.6 per cent rate a year earlier, according to preliminary figures from the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).Unemployment will increase to between 7.8 to 8.1 per cent next year, hitting low-income households and those headed by women the hardest and pushing many workers into the informal economy. However, inflation will slow to 6 per cent next year, from 8.5 per cent a year earlier.“Today the region is better prepared than in previous occasions to handle a crisis, but in no case is it immune,” ECLAC said in a press release.Developed and developing countries must coordinate macroeconomic steps and bolster intraregional trade and integration to manage the crisis, according to the UN commission. It also recommends that international agencies sufficiently finance counter-cyclical measures and that regional financial bodies inject liquidity into the global financial system.Between 2003 and 2008, the region enjoyed healthy economic growth as employment expanded and poverty shrank, and most countries posted external and fiscal account surpluses.But the international economic slowdown is already undoing those gains.According to the report, foreign direct investment (FDI) will contract next year. Mexico and some Central American nations are already seeing exports slide. The drop in prices for fuel, metals, food and other basic goods will hinder trade prospects for the region, while the expected fall in tourism and remittances from migrant workers – both significant sources of revenue – will inhibit growth.Scarce credit and the rising cost of external financing have caused a strong depreciation in local currencies in several countries, upsetting their balance sheets and thwarting efforts to slow inflation rates further, the Commission added. 19 December 2008After six years of strong performance, Latin American and Caribbean economies will slow considerably next year as the global economic meltdown takes its toll on the region and unemployment rises, a United Nations agency for economic development announced today. read more

Wigneswaran sets goals for North development projects

The most appropriate plan for his province will be to encourage small and medium scale industries making use of locally available material and involving local people organized in cooperatives, Wgneswarn said.Since most people are engaged in agriculture and fishing in the province, stress should be on these two sectors. Since the educated youth of the North are showing an interest in computer science and communication technology, “back offices” could be created to engage these youth. He observed that due to the 30 year war, officials in the provincial administration have acquired the habit of following the diktats and decisions of the Central government without bothering to give their own inputs based on local experience. It is time they learnt to operate in an era of democracy in which there is an elected government in the province, he said. The Chief Minister pointed out that officials even manipulate surveys to suit the wishes of the Central government. In a survey of war widows, officials told the widows not to say that their husbands had died due to the war but of some natural cause. The Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C V Wigneswaran has outlined the economic goals of his largely rural province and set the parameters within which economic development projects should be conceived.Addressing a conference of international donor agencies, organized by R.Paskaralingam, Adviser to the Ministry of Policy Development and Implementation, Wigneswaran said that first and foremost, any plans for the economic development of his province will have to be discussed with first with his administration and should be based on a scientific survey of the province’s resources and felt-needs, The New Indian Express reported. The Chief Minister made it very clear that the provincial administration would not welcome large, capital intensive, projects in which the locals will only be hewers of wood and drawers of water.”We will not allow outsiders to rule over us and will not allow our resources to be looted,” he said. Wigneswaran further said that since one of the aims of the development process is to effect national reconciliation, in the backdrop of three decades of war, efforts should be made to implement the joint US-Sri Lanka resolution of the UN Human Rights Council passed last year which called for the setting up of credible mechanisms to ensure accountability.If the government takes the steps outlined by him, the Northern Province would extend its fullest cooperation to the Central government’s projects, Wigneswaran assured.Significantly, Wigneswaran had boycotted the inauguration of the International Investment Forum in Jaffna organized by the provincial Governor, Reginold Cooray, on the grounds that the forum was planned without consulting him or his administration or even doing a proper survey of the felt-needs of the people of the province. (Colombo Gazette) read more