South Asia faces worst ever recession, tipping millions into poverty - World Bank

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Millions of people in South Asia are being pushed into extreme poverty as the region home to a quarter of humanity suffers from the worst recession ever due to the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank said Thursday With.
The multilateral lender forecast a record-breaking 7.7% economic decline in South Asia this year. Workers in the informal sector are hardest hit and private consumption is unlikely to quickly recover from the blow.
"The impact on livelihoods will be even greater than the GDP forecast suggests ... This implies that the poverty rate in the region will rise sharply," the bank said in its semi-annual report.
India, the region's largest economy, is likely to shrink 9.5% this year, the report said.
The report warned that South Asian economies could do worse than expected as the pandemic continues to worsen, foreign investors become more cautious, governments' ability to increase their spending, and banking systems, which are already heavily burdened with bad credit, load more heavily.
With 6.84 million people infected, including 105,000 dead, India's COVID-19 case number is the second largest after the US, despite the country's strictest lockdown in the early stages of the pandemic in March.
Pakistan and Bangladesh have each registered over 317,000 cases, while the rest of the countries in the region have registered over 149,000 cases in total.

(Reporting by Aftab Ahmed in New Delhi; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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