WEF: Leaders warn against complacency, call for job creation
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This is the message from over 1,600 business leaders, around 50 government heads and over a 1,000 leaders from other walks of life, who had congregated at this Swiss Alpine ski resort for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
The meeting, which began on January 22 and ended today, saw countries like Russia, Indonesia, South Africa and Malaysia making a strong pitch for attracting investments worth trillions of dollars, while China emerged as a major growth story.
On the other hand, India which had a strong presence at the event with more than 150 business leaders, four union ministers and many others, saw issues related to corruption and policy logjam being mentioned on quite a few occasions.
Indian leaders asserted, however, that the country was moving ahead with its reform agenda, has a strong growth potential and the issue of corruption was a worldwide phenomenon and no country should be singled out for that.
As the five-day meeting came to an end with a mountain soiree continuing till early this morning, world's top economic leaders said it is no time to relax and much more work is still left to be done by governments and corporates in different countries to keep the growth momentum and revive the economy.
The International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde asked the countries across the globe and their leaders to follow a 'do not relax' principle and not let any complacency to come into their efforts.
"I will pursue with 'do not relax' principle. The forecast is for a very fragile recovery in 2013 and that is why I will emphasise on do not relax," Lagarde said.
She also termed the recovery as "fragile and timid".
Swiss banking giant UBS Chairman Axel Weber said he fears that 2013 could be a repeat of 2012, as the last year had also begun well but things started deteriorating later.
"In my view the mood at Davos borders on complacency. The mood has been good, in brackets too good to be true," he warned.
Reflecting similar sentiment, Secretary General of Paris- based OECD, a grouping of mostly rich nations, Angel Gurria said that it is wrong to feel relieved just because the crisis has been overcome.
"What are we relieved about? Are we relieved about exhausting our monetary measures and all other measures. In fact, we should be worried about the current scenario when we have exhausted all our tools. There are issues concerning education, jobs, women, infrastructure building etc, which need to be tackled," he said.
Touching upon the issues of poverty and unemployment, the World Bank Chief Jim Yong Kim said efforts should be made to end poverty, besides making sure that prosperity is shared with women as well as the future generations.
With sliding growth in most of the developed nations, employment opportunities are difficult to come by. Going by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 75 million youth worldwide are looking for work.
Kim also said emerging nations are playing a major role in maintaining overall growth. "Rich countries should thank the developing nations for maintaining the growth that we have seen in the last five years," he noted.
The leaders also said that the UK's position vis-a-vis EU would be needed to be looked out for, especially after British Prime Minister David Cameron's strong assertions about seeking a vote on the issue, and leaders from other parts of Europe saying that EU did not want unwilling members.
Cameron, incidentally, also promised his commitment to seek greater trade ties with India, while replying to a question from UK-based billionaire NRI industrialist G P Hinduja during an interactive session.
Besides, there were discussions about Arab uprisings, with leaders from the region asserting that progress on women's rights and fight against corruption can't happen overnight.
At the WEF, the Bollywood night as well as the most-sought after Google party were missing this year. Also, many corporate parties took the form of semi-official breakfast, lunch or dinner sessions, rather than their earlier avatar of cocktail events.
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