Keynote 2 Grand debate on emerging welfare models from the East and the West
Grand debate on emerging welfare models from the East and the West
- Abhijit BANERJEE 2019 Nobel Laureate in Economics and Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Justin Yifu LIN Dean of Institute of New Structural Economics, Peking University and Former Chief Economist, The World Bank
- Abhisit VEJJAJIVA Former Prime Minister of Thailand
- Rosanna WONG Senior Advisor, The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and Chairman, Asia International School Limited
As the final keynote of Day 1, Dr Rosanna Wong, Senior Advisor of The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and Chairman of Asia International School Limited, moderated the Grand Debate on Emerging Welfare Models from the East and the West.
The debate engaged Professor Abhijit Banerjee, 2019 Nobel Laureate in Economics and Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor Justin Yifu Lin, Dean of Institute of New Structural Economics, Peking University and Former Chief Economist of The World Bank, and Former Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva on three key areas, including: the relationship between economic growth and welfare, the role of the government, and lessons for philanthropic capital.
Dr Wong, in her opening remarks, emphasised the need to establish welfare systems that lead to societal well-being and questioned how these systems could be harnessed to drive economic growth. The discussion commenced with Prof Banerjee highlighting the significance of the debate. He underlined the challenge of balancing the desire for maximum impact with the concern that philanthropic resources may not yield returns. Prof Banerjee stressed the interconnectedness of welfare and growth, emphasising that addressing misery is integral to successful policy formulation.
Mr Vejjajiva shed light on the role of government in welfare and growth. He pointed out that governments should not treat the delivery of welfare as charity but rather design systems that promote both growth and welfare simultaneously. He also discussed the limitations of the public sector and the importance of philanthropy in complementing government efforts, especially in areas that might not traditionally fall within the purview of government initiatives. For instance, he articulated the State as the provider of basic welfare but that the government has its own comparative advantages (the power to tax) and disadvantages (inflexibility and inability to take risks) in comparison to philanthropic capital. Prof Lin emphasised the importance of self-reliance and employability, especially in the context of East Asian cultures that prioritise self-sufficiency. He suggested the way for developing countries to emerge from the trap of poverty is a focus on generating economic growth and jobs. He called attention to research required on how policies can promote economic growth including supporting education to make individuals more employable and self-independent.
During the grand debate, the role of government in creating an enabling environment for welfare and growth took centre stage. Mr Vejjajiva emphasised the need for governments to proactively design systems that promote growth while ensuring that economic goals are not treated as an afterthought. Prof Banerjee pointed out that the pursuit of growth and welfare is not a binary choice and that both objectives can be achieved simultaneously. Prof Lin underscored the role of governments in supporting the private sector and creating conditions for job creation.
The discussion also touched on the importance of philanthropic capital and the need for professionalism and research in philanthropic endeavours. The panellists stressed the importance of sharing successes from both the Western and Eastern perspectives to address global challenges effectively. In the Q&A session, various questions and perspectives were explored, highlighting the complexity of the welfare-growth-philanthropy nexus and the importance of balanced and well-informed approaches to address these critical issues.