Session 21: How do Social and Economic Committees Analyse the Financial Crisis and its Consequences?
The first speaker was Mr. Gothom Arya, President of Thailand’s Social and Economic council.
Mr. Arya started by talking about the global economic crisis and pointing out its consequences in Thailand.
He first described the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and explained how the GDP declined fast, how Thailand was forced to swallow the “bitter IMF pill “and curb its spending on social welfare, thus leading to a fall in life expectancy.
Nevertheless, the country learnt from this and got back to a healthy economy in 2008. However, Thailand saw a fall in exportation, in the number of tourists, and unemployment rose.
The authorities followed NESAC’s (National Economic and Social Advisory Council) pieces of advice and adopted Stimulus Packages to help the economy recover by spending on industries, unemployment, tax cut, etc.
Mr. Arya spoke about what he described as “Soul Seeking”. The important point was: How would Thailand shift from the traditional Industry?
Eventually, Mr. Arya mentioned the Kings Paradigm about moderation, rationality and immunity and how these three concepts were to lead to sustained growth.
The next speaker was Mr. Michel Kamano, President of Guinea’s Social and Economic Council.
He started off by saying he was surprised to get to know that some people felt the economic crisis would never reach poor countries.
He described the economic impact of the Crisis at three levels:
- Public and Private Investment. He mentioned that the income from farming had reduced due to a decrease in global demand. Prices are increasing for poor people.
- Global food offer and manufactured products. The goods exported to Guinea have become more expensive, which is a big problem for locals.
- Public budget deficit. Many programs of international organizations have been postponed.
He also described the financial impact:
- The transfer of foreign currency from nationals living abroad dropped.
- The mining industry, which is the only exporting sector, faced a fall in global prices.
- The financial crisis led to minor investments and then to inflation and a greater poverty.
Mr. Kamano thinks that “Good governance “ is the solution to this crisis, and the following measures can help:
1. Macroeconomic stabilisation.
2. Rational exploitation of natural resources
3. Promoting an efficient private economy.
4. Fighting corruption
5. Social governance
He answered a question about making up a common agriculture policy for all African nations by saying that countries need to understand that micro nations have no future and Africa’s future lies in common projects and goals.
The third speaker was Mr. Jacques Dermagne , President of France’s Social and Economic Council.
Mr Dermagne hinted at globalization and the way it has created a chain reaction starting from a financial turmoil, but the main question was “How to be better after the crisis than before”.
He said that we need to reinvent our values in order to find a solution. Recession can happen again if we do not tighten financial regulation.
He said that good governance is significant and intensifying dialogue with all social partners is not about right-wings or left-wings politics, but about good will and ethical values.
The last speaker was Robert Tollet, President of Belgium’s Central Economic Council.
Mr Tollet underlined that Belgium’s main asset in order to fight this crisis is the common agreement signed by all social partners since the end of 2008. He agrees with dialog being very important, notably to find a balance between competitiveness and jobs.
Mr Tollet was not very optimistic about the end of the crisis. He thinks that western countries such as Belgium will have to face some crucial issues:
- How to stabilize the public deficit?
- How to support the workers’ purchasing power?
- How to face macro economic inequalities?