Asian Development Bank to meet in Fukuoka

The Asian Development Bank will hold its 30th annual governors’ meeting in Fukuoka beginning May 4 to discuss such issues as drawing on private-sector funds to develop infrastructure in the region.

The bank, which is based in Manila, began operations in December 1966 and has grown into an institution with 56 members from both inside and outside Asia as of the end of last year. In calendar 1996, the bank extended a total of $5.55 billion in loans to 21 nations.

The three-day Fukuoka meeting, during which members will give presentations concerning economic development issues in their respective countries, is also expected to place importance on issues such as the role the ADB should play in the next century. Japan, this year’s host, will be represented by Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka and Bank of Japan Gov. Yasuo Matsushita.

Over the past 30 years, the Asian region has become one of the fastest growing areas of the globe. Yet millions of its inhabitants remain in poverty.

At the same time, the problems now are not simply economic — the issues of concern at the ADB now include a wide range of social and environmental problems. Bank officials now say the ADB’s role is evolving from financing projects to providing a wider range of development aid, and that greater emphasis is being placed on policy analysis and performance assessment.

It hopes to serve as a catalyst for encouraging other financiers, especially private institutions, to enter the infrastructure development arena, they add.