COVID-19 cri­sis to hit hard 220m work­ers, warns ADB

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - MANILA -AFP

The COVID-19 pan­demic will hit hard nearly 220 mil­lion young work­ers aged 15 to 24 in Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased by the Asian Devel­op­ment Bank (ADB). The re­port ti­tled "tack­ling the COVID-19 youth em­ploy­ment cri­sis in Asia and the Pa­cific" said the pan­demic has trig­gered a mas­sive dis­rup­tion of la­bor mar­kets that has had dis­pro­por­tion­ate im­pacts on youth em­ploy­ment.

"Through lock­downs and travel re­stric­tions, de­mand has slumped and many busi­nesses have been forced to close or cut back op­er­a­tions, with se­ri­ous im­pacts on work­ers," the re­port says.

The re­port, a co-pub­li­ca­tion of the ADB and the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­ga­ni­za­tion (ILO), said that nearly 220 mil­lion young work­ers in the re­gion are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble given their short ten­ure on the job, their em­ploy­ment in es­pe­cially hard-hit sec­tors, and their ten­dency to earn liveli­hoods in unse­cured in­for­mal jobs. "Youth will be hit harder than adults in the im­me­di­ate cri­sis and also will bear higher longer-term eco­nomic and so­cial costs," the study warns.

To ad­dress the youth em­ploy­ment cri­sis, the study urges gov­ern­ments to ur­gently adopt large-scale and tar­geted re­sponses cen­tered on com­pre­hen­sive la­bor mar­ket poli­cies, in­clud­ing wage sub­si­dies and public em­ploy­ment pro­grams to min­i­mize the im­pacts on young stu­dents of dis­rupt­ing their ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing.

It said, "Ef­fec­tive COVID19 mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures will en­sure that the poor­est and most vul­ner­a­ble youth are reached and that young peo­ple are mean­ing­fully en­gaged in pol­icy and so­cial di­a­logue."

More­over, the re­port stressed the need to pri­or­i­tize youth em­ploy­ment and max­i­mize youth pro­duc­tiv­ity in the COVID-19 re­cov­ery process, say­ing these will im­prove Asia-Pa­cific's prospects for in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able growth, de­mo­graphic tran­si­tion, and so­cial sta­bil­ity.

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern slapped down Don­ald Trump's talk of an out-of-con­trol coro­n­avirus "surge" in New Zealand as "patently wrong". She ex­pressed dis­may after the US pres­i­dent ex­ag­ger­ated the new virus out­break in New

Zealand as a "huge surge" that Amer­i­cans would do well to avoid. "Any­one who is fol­low­ing," Ardern said, "will quite eas­ily see that New Zealand's nine cases in a day does not com­pare to the United States' tens of thou­sands."

"Ob­vi­ously, it's patently wrong," she added of Trump's re­marks, in un­usu­ally blunt crit­i­cism from an Amer­i­can ally. New Zealand had been hailed as a global suc­cess story after erad­i­cat­ing lo­cal trans­mis­sion of the virus and Ardern was lauded as the "anti-Trump". But the re­cent dis­cov­ery of a clus­ter in Auck­land forced the coun­try's largest city back into lock­down.

At an elec­tion rally in Min­nesota on Mon­day, Trump jumped on that devel­op­ment as ev­i­dence his crit­ics- who held up New Zealand as an ex­am­plewere wrong. "You see what is go­ing on in New Zealand," Trump told sup­port­ers. "They beat it; they beat it. It was like front page ( news), they beat it be­cause they wanted to show me some­thing." Cit­ing a "big surge in New Zealand", Trump added: "It's ter­ri­ble. We don't want that."

New Zealand, with a pop­u­la­tion of five mil­lion, has around 1,300 coro­n­avirus cases since the pan­demic be­gan roughly eight months ago and around 70 ac­tive cases. The United States, on the other hand, is the hard­est-hit na­tion in the world with well over five mil­lion cases and more than 170,000 deaths.

It is not the first time that Trump and Ardern-a rel­a­tively young, cen­tre- left leader-have clashed. Shortly after her stun­ning elec­tion win in 2017, Trump met her at a sum­mit in Viet­nam and joked she had "caused a lot of up­set in her coun­try".

"You know, no one marched when I was elected," she re­torted, re­fer­ring to the protests that fol­lowed Trump's vic­tory in 2016. Both lead­ers are head­ing into elec­tions in the com­ing weeks, and for both, trad­ing barbs is likely to play well with sup­port­ers.

Ardern has been forced to post­pone the elec­tions by a month be­cause of the lat­est out­break, putting her siz­able lead in the polls at risk.

Trump is trail­ing Demo­crat Joe Bi­den in the polls and fac­ing fierce crit­i­cism over his han­dling of the pan­demic.

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