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`S. Asian region must focus on enhancing competitiveness'

Our Bureau

Hyderabad , Dec. 13

THE United Nations has asked the post-Colonial Governments in South Asia to give way to modern, cutting-edge and professional governments in order to benefit from the globalisation process.

Addressing the regional forum on revitalising government in `South Asia: Public sector capacity and globalisation' here on Monday, a high-level UN official said unless the region took measures, there was a danger of it being overlooked or marginalised from the process of globalisation.

Dr Hafiz Pasha, UN Assistant Secretary-General, said the region could record some noticeable growth.

Yet the rate of poverty reduction was disappointing in the 1990s. The reason for not achieving a breakthrough was not including agriculture. This was referred to as jobless growth.

One of the main reasons, he said, was failure to attract foreign direct investments despite opening up the economy.

He observed that all growth plans should be inclusive (of the poor) in character.

The onus was on governments. "Governments will have to focus on sustaining and enhancing competitiveness. The focus should be on developing physical infrastructure and investing in human resources in order to make the labour internationally competitive," he said.

Yet another block was high corruption rates in the region. Fair rules of the game (of trade) and maintaining law and order also held the key.

Before globalisation, the countries in the region were inwardly looking, mostly focussing on import substitution.

The process of liberalisation and globalisation turned the tide, greatly reducing trade tariffs from as high as 60 per cent in the late 1970s to 47 per cent in 1980s and 20 per cent in 1990. "This is the extent of opening up," Dr Pasha said.

The three-day forum was being organised by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, (UNDESA), UN Development Programme and Administrative College of India.

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