Friday, April 27, 2007

Keeping Poverty Alive Beyond 2020

A Personal View Eminent Persons Group Report

The recent report of the Eminent Persons Group to the ADB President entitled, “Towards a New Asian Development Bank in a New Asia,” is worth reading if only for the rosy future it paints for the peoples of Asia and the Pacific come 2020. As the Bank enters its fifth decade of existence and amid increasingly cutthroat competition from other lending institutions that threatens its “preeminence as a regional bank,” the Report prescribes new directions and approaches for the ADB. These are promoting inclusive growth; facilitating environmentally sustainable growth; and promoting regional (and global) integration.

In so doing the Bank, whose development model has created both so-called millions of beneficiaries and countless unwitting human victims and incalculable environmental harm in a number of Asia-Pacific nations, would preserve its raison d’etre; thus avoid becoming an anachronism in our rapidly-evolving and developing region.


Four Decades of the Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank had its beginnings when it held its inaugural Annual Meeting in November 1966 in Tokyo. Its next Annual Meeting was then held in Manila in April 1968. In 1966, the Bank was owned by 40 regional and 16 non-regional member countries. Currently, it is owned by 48 regional and 19 non-regional ones. Its authorized capital stock of US$1.1 billion increased to US$48 billion in 1999 then to US$50 billion in 2006. Moreover, the annual budget is US$42 million in 1966 which increased to US$7.97 billion on 2007.

From its founding up to 31 December 2005, the ADB has approved US$84.6 billion of Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) loans. In 2005 alone, it approved loans from OCR totaling US$4.4 billion (US$4.0 billion in 2004), which included US$536 million (US$293 million in 2004) for private sector borrowers. On the other hand, outstanding loans from the Asian Development Fund (ADF), which is the largest Special Fund, amounted to US$20.2 billion as of 31 December 2005.