ADB will continue to deepen regional economic cooperation initiaitives -Nakao


By M Naeem Chaudhry
YOKOHAMA, (Japan) May 07 APP: President Asian Development Bank Takehito Nakao Sunday said that the Bank would continue to “ deepen our own regional economic cooperation initiatives” and coordinate closely with other existing and emerging regional cooperation platforms.
Addressing a closing press conference here at the conclusion of Annual Meeting of ADB Board of Governors, he told “We will continue to facilitate South-South cooperation that supports knowledge transfer and expertise among developing member countries.”
While progress in Asia has been impressive, the battle against poverty is not over yet as reminded by the participants, he said and added “reducing poverty will remain our major focus.”
He said ADB will continue to prioritize the needs of the poorest and the most fragile countries, including small island countries in the Pacific. Growing inequalities are a major concern for many countries, he added.
“We will enhance our support for addressing inequality across
groups and regions. Strengthening financial inclusion and supporting inclusive business will be integral components of our approach to
deepen inclusiveness,” he commented.
In response to a question, the President said ADB will continue
to play a key role in mobilizing the vast resources needed for infrastructure development in the region. According to a recent ADB
study, Asia will need $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure
investments through 2030.
He said “We will scale up to help meet this large infrastructure
deficit, increasingly use high-level technology in infrastructure, vigorously pursue our commitment to climate finance, and actively
promote public-private partnerships.”
Governors encouraged ADB to crowd-in larger private sector financing to support the region’s development, especially for infrastructure, he said.
“We are placing a strong emphasis on public-private partnerships.
In our private sector operations, we plan to expand our guarantee operations, equity investments, and cofinancing,” he said.
At the same time, the President said he would like to note that in a way ADB was created to mobilize private sector resources by leveraging our equity to tap capital markets.
The merger of our Asian Development Fund (ADF) lending operations and Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) balance sheet allows us to further leverage these resources, he added.
Our experience in the past 50 years demonstrates that both public
and private sector investments by ADB through preparing necessary infrastructure and setting conducive policy environment help crowd-in private sector resources and activities, he stated.
The bank, he said intended to expand such operations in poorer
countries. “We are expanding staff resources for our Private Sector Operations Department to facilitate this scale up,” he added.
“We are on track towards meeting our ambitious financing target
of $6 billion for climate change by 2020. We continue to pay special attention to the challenges facing Pacific island countries,
particularly in adaptation,” he expressed.
“We are actively supporting our developing member countries’ access to concessional resources, including from the Green Climate Fund. We are providing policy advice and capacity building support to our client countries for their nationally determined contributions. We will increase our support to prevent and reduce risks from natural disasters,” he observed.
To another query, Mr Nakao said, “we will increase support for universal health coverage, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and social protection.”

ADB President Nakao said achieving gender equality remains
a key agenda in many of our developing member countries. “We have strengthened gender mainstreaming in our projects. We will continue
to proactively pursue gender equality outcomes across all our operations.”
“We will design projects that help women and girls secure higher skills, better health, more jobs, and a larger voice in decision making,” he said.
The importance of addressing governance and institutional
challenges was highlighted, he said and added, “We will continue
to support structural and sector reforms to strengthen governance
and support capacity development. Both project and policy-based
assistance will be deployed to support governance and institutional improvements in developing member countries.”
Depending on country circumstances, the Bank will use an appropriate combination of project lending, results-based lending and policy-based lending, he said.
Some Governors recognized the importance of supporting countries in economic distress through our countercyclical support facility. “We are coordinating closely with the International Monetary Fund and other development partners for policy-based lending,” the President observed.
“Many Governors urged us to provide effective knowledge solutions
and expertise, together with expanding lending assistance. ADB is strengthening its capacity to provide knowledge solutions, and to
support innovation and the integration of high-level technology in project design”, he added.
ADB’s sector and thematic groups have been mainstreamed into organizational structure and assigned roles critical for ADB operations, mhe said.
“ADB will also continue to pursue reforms to improve responsiveness and to streamline our procedures. ADB has just approved a new procurement framework to reduce overall procurement time, improve the quality of procurement outcomes, and strengthen the procurement delivery system”, he said.
“We will continue to strengthen our resident missions by providing them greater authority, and out-posting more staff. We will uphold the highest levels of environmental and social safeguards in all our projects and increasingly use country systems,” he added.
As several Governors emphasized, highly-skilled and motivated staff is critical to deliver quality financing operations and value-adding knowledge services to client countries, he said “We will continue our efforts to attract, retain, and motivate a highly talented and diverse workforce.”
“We plan to strengthen gender balance of staff at all levels, including for senior positions. Many of you share my concerns about the sustainability of the staff pension plan and support its reform. We will continue to pursue utmost efficiency in our administrative budget and achieve value for money”, he said.
About the importance of partnership for expanding our cofinancing and leveraging knowledge and expertise, Mr Nakao said “We will continue to strengthen cofinancing efforts with our private, bilateral and multilateral financing partners, including new institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank. We will also enhance our partnership with think tanks, civil society organizations and innovative private sector companies.”
About Strategy 2030, he said the Bank will balance the need to be selective to ensure our effectiveness and the need to be responsive to countries’ priorities.
He said “The strategy will have a strong emphasis on achieving results and development effectiveness. We will continue to have an inclusive and meaningful consultative process as we develop this strategy and finalize it in 2018.”