“Governments, microfinance institutions, businesses and NGOs can facilitate the long journey out of poverty by providing the full range of products and services that clients need to address their vulnerabilities and take advantage of opportunities,” said Microcredit Summit Campaign Director Larry Reed.
“This summit will focus on the best examples of partnerships that benefit those living in severe poverty. By bringing together stakeholders from a variety of different development sectors, we hope to catalyze the growth of public-private partnerships that serve the poor.”
The 2013 Microcredit Summit comes at a critical time with just two years left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
It is estimated that, at the current rate of progress, around 1 billion people will still be living in extreme poverty in 2015 and that nearly 2.6 billion people in the world have no access to formal financial services.
Microfinance providers work to reduce this gap and to offer non-financial services to help improve the lives of families around the world.
They have the ability to effectively deliver education, business development services and health services to the poorest, especially to women living in rural areas of the world. When combined with savings, loans and insurance, these interventions are powerful tools in the fight against global poverty.
“Clients tell us they need education for their children, healthcare for their family, decent housing and regular, nutritious meals,” said Professor Muhammad Yunus.
“This should be the focus of our work at this upcoming summit and in the years ahead.”
The campaign has chosen the Philippines as the host country for its excellent performance in microfinance as well as for its recognition of public-private partnerships as a development strategy that leads to inclusive economic growth and creates new opportunities that can significantly reduce poverty.
In the light of the goals aimed at eradicating poverty, particularly in poor developing countries, and the need to reach out to the vulnerable groups of women, children and people with disabilities, AGFUND, a major organization in the field of supporting sustainable human development and poverty eradication, has responded to the first Millennium Development Goal.
This goal was called for in the Millennium Summit, organized by the UN and attended by world leaders in September 2000.
In line with this goal, AGFUND has supported microfinance institutions in developing countries, participated in regional microcredit conferences.
Seven banks and microfinance institutions have been founded in Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Sierra Leone, Lebanon and Sudan. These banks, which take the name of ‘Ibda’ (creativity), are the most prominent in the industries of Arab states.
More than 1.2 million poor citizens, i.e. 250,000 families in the Arab world and Africa, have benefited from these banks. They have also given rise to new business opportunities that help reduce unemployment.
Extreme poverty is stated as a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services.
Extreme poverty was defined in 1996 by Joseph Wresinski, the founder of ATD Fourth World as the absence of one or more factors enabling individuals and families to assume basic responsibilities and to enjoy fundamental rights.
The situation may become widespread and result in more serious and permanent consequences. The lack of basic security leads to chronic poverty when it simultaneously affects several aspects of people’s lives, when it is prolonged and when it severely compromises people’s chances of regaining their rights and of reassuming their responsibilities in the foreseeable future.
The eradication of extreme poverty and hunger was the first Millennium Development Goal, as set by 179 United Nations member-states in 2000. Extreme poverty is most common in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Australian Retail Sales Fall
Australian retail sales unexpectedly fell in March and job advertisements dropped for a second month, sending the currency lower as traders see a 50-50 chance the central bank will resume cutting interest rates.
Sales declined 0.4 percent to A$21.9 billion ($22.5 billion) from a month earlier, when they rose 1.3 percent, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney. That was the first drop of the year and compared with economists’ estimates for a 0.1 percent gain.
An Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) report showed help-wanted notices fell 1.3 percent in April, Bloomberg wrote.
“The retail data and the decline in job ads should be consistent with an interest rate cut from the Reserve Bank,” said Joshua Williamson, a senior economist at Citigroup Inc. in Sydney who predicted the 0.4 percent drop and expects the central bank to lower borrowing costs.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose Labor Party is 10 percentage points behind the opposition in public polls ahead of a Sept. 14 election, faces an economy weighed by sustained currency strength.
Weakness in China’s economy, as shown by a services index, is damping commodity prices and curbing returns from Gillard’s new tax on mining profits.
The local dollar traded at $1.0284 at 2:27 p.m. in Sydney from $1.0297 before the release. Traders are pricing in a 51 percent chance the Reserve Bank of Australia will reduce the benchmark rate to a record-low 2.75 percent, according to swaps data compiled by Bloomberg.
Governor Glenn Stevens and his board cut rates six times from November 2011 to December 2012 to buttress the economy. The rate is at 3 percent, matching a half-century low, as policy makers aim to stimulate industries outside of mining, while the sustained strength of the currency is a drag on growth.
Saudi-UAE Confidence Declines
Consumer confidence in Saudi Arabia slumped in the first quarter of 2013 while the UAE’s score also fell, according to the latest findings from Nielsen.
Its Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions showed that confidence in Saudi Arabia plummeted by 17 points compared to the previous quarter, Arabian Business wrote.
Egypt saw the largest decline in Q1 (down 20 points) while the UAE fell five index points to 108. Despite the drop, the UAE’s score was still 15 points higher than the global average, Nielsen said.
Globally, the UAE ranked sixth for consumer confidence alongside China and Hong Kong.
The Q1 index was topped by Indonesia (122 points), followed by India, Philippines, Thailand and Brazil.
Among the worst performers in Q1 were Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Croatia.
Europe’s regional consumer confidence index of 71 held steady from Q4 2012. At the end of last year, consumer confidence fell in 20 of 29 European markets. In Q1, the opposite trend was reported, as consumer confidence rose in 20 of 29 markets.
North America (94) reported the biggest quarter-on-quarter regional consumer confidence rise of four points in Q1.
Consumer confidence declines were reported in the Middle East/Africa region (85), which decreased 11 index points since Q4 2012 and in Latin America (94), which declined two index points from the previous quarter.
Global consumer confidence indexed at 93, one point lower than the index in Q1 2012 and two points higher than it measured in Q4 2012.
The Nielsen index measures consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents in 58 countries.
RBI Curbs to Hurt Gold Imports
Gold imports by India, the world’s largest consumer, are poised to fall after the central bank restricted overseas purchases by banks to reduce domestic demand and curb a record current-account deficit.
Banks will be allowed to import bullion on a consignment basis to meet only genuine needs of exporters of gold jewelry, the Reserve Bank of India said in its annual monetary statement.
The bulk of the imports by banks is on a consignment basis that doesn’t require them to fund the purchase, the bank said, AP reported.
At least 36 private and state-owned banks and companies, including MMTC and State Trading, are authorized to import bullion directly, according to the central bank.
“The curbs will certainly bring down imports because gold will not be freely available,” said Bachhraj Bamalwa, a director and former chairman of the All-India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation.
Buyers flocked to jewelry stores and bank outlets in India to buy ornaments and coins after gold plummeted 9.1 percent on April 15 in the worst slide since 1983, causing a shortage.
The all-time high current-account shortfall, exacerbated by bullion imports, and consumer-price inflation above 10 percent are among risks that constrain room for further policy easing, the central bank said, after cutting interest rates for a third straight meeting to revive growth.
Reserve Bank Governor Duvvuri Subbarao said he did not expect a dramatic reduction in investment demand though a moderation in imports was expected.
India has tripled import taxes on gold from as low as 2 percent in January last year after the current-account shortfall, the broadest measure of trade, widened and the rupee slumped to a record against the US dollar.
Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram has blamed the deficit on a passion for gold, saying the gap is a greater concern than the worst budget deficit among the so-called BRIC nations.
The deficit widened to $32.6 billion in the last quarter of 2012.
“Not much can be done to physically curb demand for gold in India because purchases are mainly on account of tradition,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at Credit Analysis & Research.
The government will need to change the mindset of the people by diverting them to other financial instruments to give them better returns.
“There is a scarcity of gold in the Indian market. Jewelers were paying $10 an ounce to $12 an ounce over the London cash price to secure supplies,” Bamalwa said.
UBS AG said the appetite for for gold continued to be “very strong” in India and an index of physical flows showed demand five times that of a 12-month average.
Non-Oil Exports Up
Exports of non-oil goods grew by 5 percent in the previous Iranian year (started March 21), compared with the corresponding figure of last year, said the head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran on Sunday.
Speaking in the First National Conference of ‘Gaz’--a kind of candy--in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari province, Hamid Safdel said during the period, Iran exported $41 billion worth of non-oil products.
Last year, Iran produced 80 million tons of cement, ranking fourth worldwide in this regard. During this period, Iran exported 50,000 automobiles.
“We should outline provincial and national strategic documents in the conversion industries,” he said. “Last year, $4.2 billion and $1.6 billion worth of agricultural and food products respectively, were exported.”
He listed export items as aquatics, flowers and plants, potato, pistachio, date, resin, fruit, saffron and tea.
Safdel said fruit exports included $770 million worth of fruit and $1 billion worth of fruit concentrates and canned fruit.
He put last year’s wheat exports at 14 million tons and noted that currently, Iran ranks 30th in this respect among 60 countries based on the report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Food industries’ exports in the previous year indicate a 7-percent growth in terms of value compared with the figure for 2005.
In March, a report released by the Customs Administration of Iran said Iran had non-oil trade transactions with 196 countries during the 11 months of the previous year.
The report said foreign trade balance with 99 countries was positive while it was negative with 97 countries.
Some $29.199 billion of non-oil products, excluding gas condensates, were exported while the figure for import was $48.387 billion.
The report said the value of exports comprised 62.77 percent of total foreign trade, adding that the figure for last year was 62.37 percent.
Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Turkmenistan and Pakistan had the highest positive trade balance with Iran.
UAE, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey and China had the highest negative trade balance with Iran.
Cookies, Chocolates Fetch $400m
Translated by Katayoon Dashti
The value of exports of cookies and chocolates surpassed $400 million during the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2013).
According to an IRNA report, the rise in quality of products, being halal, proper packaging and the rise in hygienic indices and public trust toward Iranian food products are behind the growth in Iranian exports.
Once the Strategic Export Development Document of Gaz--a famous sweet--is prepared, exports and involvement in this field will rise.
Rahman Karami, the head of Chaharmahal-Bakhtiarid Industries, Mines and Trade Department, said experts seeks to achieve a knowledge-based export approach for increasing the production and export of this sweet.
Karami added that those involved in the Gaz industry should forge consensus to improve the quality of products and promote destination markets.
Also, a national Gaz stamp will be unveiled soon.
He noted that studying the efficiency of traditional and industrial methods of production, standardizing and improving production methods, building brand in Gaz industry, role of new technology in quality improvement, ways to increase durability of Gaz, its employment, historical, cultural and social record, tourism issues and souvenir products as major goals.
Currently Boldaji Gaz producers, make 40,000 kg of various types of Gaz, generate 7.3 trillion rials in revenues.
French Car Sales
Sales of new vehicles in France were down 5 percent in April from the same period of previous year, the French car sales federation CCFA said.