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ADB's new strategy focuses on prosperous Asia

Its chief lauds B'desh ICT sector, economic growth

Special Correspondent From Manila, Philippines | May 06, 2018 00:00:00

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will pursue a new 'Strategy 2030,' aiming to attain a resilient, inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific.

Tackling poverty and rising inequality, fostering regional cooperation and integration, mobilising private resources, promoting local government and food security, accelerating progress in gender equality and enhancing support to combat climate change are among the priority areas of the new strategy.

ADB president Takehiko Nakao highlighted the Asian lender's future strategy, which was released this year in the opening session of the 51st annual meeting of the ADB, held in the Filipino capital of Manila.

The ADB boss said despite having a sustained growth momentum, there still remains some challenges, especially in relation to persistent poverty, rising inequality, growing environmental pressures and rapid urbanisation, for Asia and the Pacific.

"Strategy 2030 will renew our strong commitment to eradicating extreme poverty in the region and expanding our vision to achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific," Mr. Nakao said.

About the future priority areas of its new long-term strategy, he said the ADB would help create quality jobs, promote secondary and tertiary education, expand universal health care, and strengthen social protection programmes to help cut poverty and curb the growing inequality in the region.

Mentioning the bank's future approach towards promoting gender equality in the region, Mr Nakao lauded the progress made by Bangladesh in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

"When I was in Bangladesh this February, I visited an ADB-supported ICT laboratory at a rural school. I was impressed by the enthusiasm of girls and boys to study ICT," said the ADB chief.

He went on: "One girl stood up and said she wanted to be a satellite engineer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh was proud when I shared this story with her."

Mr Nakao, however, said the ADB would continue to incorporate gender elements into its projects and support gender-focused projects in education, health, and financial inclusion.

Regarding regional cooperation and integration, the ADB head said the lender would build on it experiences in sub-regional cooperation initiatives since the 1990s in Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.

"We will promote regional public goods such as transportation and logistical networks, and protection against communicable diseases. We will support a regional approach to energy security, education, tourism, and financial stability," he said. Besides, the ADB will cooperate with existing and emerging international and regional initiatives, the top executive of the regional lender noted.

About the growing demand for resources to finance the region's infrastructure and other development activities, he said the ADB would mobilise private sector resources to do so.

"Our private sector operations help fill market gaps and promote private sector participation in infrastructure and other development finance," he said. "We will further scale up our private sector operations, widen their geographic coverage including new and frontier markets, and expand operations in social sectors such as health and education," said the ADB head.

The ADB will also continue to promote the effective use of public-private partnerships and gear up resource mobilisation through credit enhancement operations and co-financing with bilateral and multilateral partners, he added.

Another priority of the ADB's new strategy will be to further strengthen the bank's role as a provider and facilitator of knowledge.

For the sake of implementing the new strategy, the multilateral lender will continue to use its financial resources efficiently and creatively.

About the regional economic outlook, the ADB president said developing Asia grew by 6.1 per cent in 2017 and is expected to grow at a rate of 6.0 per cent in 2018.

Excluding the four newly industrialised economies (Hong Kong, China; Republic of Korea; Singapore; and Taipei, (China), developing Asia's rate of growth is expected to be 6.5 per cent in 2018, he said. "It is encouraging that global and regional trade has started to grow robustly again since the beginning of last year," he said.

He also acclaimed the economic growth of Bangladesh along with some other economies namely Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Viet Nam, saying growth of those could be 7.0 per cent or even more.

Secretary of Finance, Philippines and Chair of the ADB Board of Governors Carlos G. Dominguez also spoke at the opening session, largely participated by finance and development ministers, central bank governors, private sector, civil society partners, representatives of academia and the media from across Asia, North America, and Europe.

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