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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – Efforts to Fight Poverty - 2004-10-03

Broadcast: October 4, 2004

This is Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

The World Bank estimates that more than one thousand million people live on less than one dollar a day. These are the poorest of the poor, about one-sixth of the world population.

Martin Ravallion works for the Development Research Group at the World Bank. He says about fifty percent of the people in several African nations are among the world’s poorest. These nations include Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia.

But even though these areas remain extremely poor, Mister Ravallion says world poverty has been cut in half over the last twenty years. He says the number of poor people dropped by almost four hundred million between nineteen eighty-one and two thousand one.

To reduce poverty, the World Bank says developing nations should expand the possibilities for business and investment. The bank’s newest World Development Report notes that private industry creates more than ninety percent of jobs in developing countries.

The report for two thousand five is based on questions asked of more than thirty thousand businesses in fifty-three developing countries. World Bank researchers found that companies are most concerned about how governments decide to enforce laws. About ninety percent of those in Guatemala reported policy conflicts with their government. This was true of more than seventy percent of businesses in Belarus and Zambia.

Many companies also express concerns about problems like dishonesty and undependable electricity supplies.

Last week, about fifty heads of state discussed ways to reduce poverty during a one-day conference in New York. The leaders and top officials met before the opening of the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

French President Jacques Chirac and Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva called for a world tax to help finance an anti-poverty campaign. Diplomats say international finances, airplane tickets and sales of heavy weapons are just some of the things that could be taxed.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and another official represented the United States at the conference. She said taxes on world trade would be undemocratic and impossible to put in place.

The U.N. has a goal to reduce by half the remaining number of poor people in the world by two thousand fifteen.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. This is Gwen Outen.