Business

Faster investing, stronger private-sector cooperation key to ADB’s support of regional growth: Nakao

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

Speedier investment and stronger cooperation with the private sector are key for the Asian Development Bank to continue supporting further growth in the Asia-Pacific region, the bank’s president, Takehiko Nakao, said.

“We should make our (financing) system faster or more responsive to countries’ needs,” Nakao told a news conference Sunday during the international bank’s 50th annual meeting at Pacifico Yokohama. “We are now implementing procurement reforms. And our human resources should be further strengthened.”

The ADB has been criticized for slow decision-making on loans compared with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a China-led investment counterpart often referred to as the ADB’s rival.

“We should make our procedures as streamlined as possible” so as to offer loans quickly in needed areas, Nakao said, adding that he also intended to further strengthen co-financing with the AIIB for some projects.

Meanwhile, Nakao also said it was important for the ADB to urge the private sector to support the prosperity of the region through such projects as infrastructure development.

To strengthen cooperation with the private sector, the ADB announced Thursday it will launch a new initiative to promote public-private partnerships (PPPs) in which public sector and private firms work together on projects that will benefit the public in a more efficient manner through know-how from the private sector.

By setting up a new program, called the Infrastructure Referee Program, the ADB will also provide consultation services for occasions when the public and private sectors fail to resolve an issue.

Asked about how fear of U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist policy will affect the bank’s activities, Nakao said he hoped the U.S. would continue contributing to Asia’s development.

After joining the ADB in 1966, the U.S. had contributed a total of $22.27 billion to the ADB in capital subscription as of the end of December. Japan and the U.S. are the top two shareholders in the regional bank.

Cooperation with multilateral stakeholders is essential for the ADB to fulfill abundant infrastructure needs in the Asia-Pacific region, as the bank has forecast the area will need a massive $1.7 trillion in investments every year in the infrastructure sector for projects including power, transportation, telecommunications and water, through 2030 if it maintains current levels of growth.

“There were so many discussions about the global situation today, Asia’s potential and how the ADB can address issues of our region in coming years,” Nakao said as he brought the four-day meeting to a close Sunday.

With the 50th anniversary meeting over, the next annual ADB conference is scheduled to be held in Manila, where the investment bank’s headquarters are located.

“In Manila next year, we will expect (ADB) to begin the process of reinvention,” Philippines Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the same day. “The development needs in our region are changing and the bank must respond appropriately.”