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World Bank, IMF endorse bold poverty agenda

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The IMF and World Bank on Saturday backed a bold Bank goal to eradicate extreme poverty within a generation and raise the shared prosperity of their 188 member countries.

The Development Committee, representing the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on development issues, said it had endorsed the "ambitious" agenda proposed two weeks ago by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Calling the initiative a "historic opportunity" to make a difference, the committee said the goals must be achieved without jeopardizing the environment, increasing economic debt or excluding vulnerable people.

Kim welcomed the committee's endorsement as "an important step."

"I have no doubt that the world can end extreme poverty within a generation. But it's not a given and we cannot do it alone. It requires focus, innovation and commitments from everyone," he said.

"If we succeed, together, we would have accomplished an historic milestone."

Kim, a physician who took the reins of the Bank in July, had made adoption of the poverty agenda his top priority for the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

The plan aims at reducing the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day to three percent by 2030, while raising the incomes of the poorest 40 percent in each country.

The level of extreme poverty has fallen from 42 percent of the world's population to 21 percent over the past 25 years, in part due to China's economic growth.

The Development Committee said in its statement that achieving the goal would take strong growth across the developing world, and an unprecedented translation of growth into poverty reduction in many low-income countries.

The panel also noted institutional and governance challenges would have to be overcome and investments in infrastructure and agricultural productivity would be needed.

"Ministers unequivocally supported Dr. Kim's vision and stated that we can count on the World Bank Group as a partner in the endeavor of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity," Marek Belka, the chairman of the Development Committee, said in the statement.

"Dr. Kim renewed our zeal for the Bank Group's core mission of a world free of poverty. There is a historic opportunity at our reach to make critical progress."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130420/world-bank-imf-endorse-bold-poverty-agenda