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South Asia Remains Fastest Growing Region: World Bank Report

Despite the current GDP slowdown in India, the latest Annual Report of World Bank for fiscal 2019 says South Asia is projected to grow at 7% in 2020 & 7.1% in 2021

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In its latest Annual Report for 2019, the World Bank lists out some interesting revelations in the South Asian region. The report categorically states that South Asia remains the fastest-growing region in the world, with growth projected at 6.9 per cent in 2019 followed by 7 per cent in 2020 and 7.1 per cent in 2021. The growth is said to be driven by strong private consumption, recovering exports, and investments due to policy reforms and infrastructure upgrades. The region has also experienced political stability, with a democratic and peaceful transition of governments in most countries.

The report states that it approved $8.9 billion in lending to the region for 54 operations in fiscal 2019, including $4.0 billion in IBRD loans and $4.9 billion in IDA commitments.

The report mentions that an estimated 1.5 million people will be entering the job market every month over the next two decades, job creation is essential. To address these challenges, the Bank says it is supporting various efforts across the region including the $400 million Innovation in Solar Power and Hybrid Technologies Project that supports renewable
energy and battery energy storage solutions. 

Also for the accessibility to healthcare services for an underdeveloped population the report had suggested its investment in the region. For instance initiatives such as the 400 million USD Program toward Elimination of Tuberculosis in India build on earlier efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of health and nutrition services.

The report states that risk to the outlook mainly stem from domestic factors, including weak exports, slow progress on fiscal consolidation, high deficits, and disruptions due to natural disasters, the report says. "Robust growth has translated into declining poverty and impressive improvements in health and education," it adds.

There is a flip side to the development too. The report says that as of 2015, the proportion of people living on less than $1.90 a day was still an estimated 12.4 per cent that is a considerable percentage of the regional population, the report says. In number terms, it translates into 216 million people—a third of the global poor.

The report states that many countries in the region suffer from extreme forms of social exclusion and significant infrastructure gaps. Focusing on the challenge of Rohingya migration the report labelled it as one of the largest refugee inflows in modern times. So, it is as more than 740,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh since August 2017, according to UN estimates and created uproar in many of the neighbouring nations. 

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