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Dominguez calls for effective ADB role as Asia leads global growth

Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd called for a more effective role for the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in reducing inequalities amid the rapid population and economic expansion in Asia-Pacific as the region drives the next cycle of global growth.

As the newly appointed chairman of the ADB Board of Governors ahead of the 51st Annual Meeting next year, Dominguez said the $250 billion released over the last 50 years to help fight poverty in Asia is now dwarfed by the current size of the regional economy.

“Over the last 50 years, the ADB has mobilized $250 billion to help fight poverty in the region. That is an impressive number, taken at the aggregate [level]. It is dismal when set against the current size of the regional economy, the population our development efforts need to assist and the pace at which individual member-economies need to grow,” Dominguez said in a speech on the sidelines of the just concluded ADB Board of Governors business session in Japan on May 7, issued in a statement released in Manila on Monday.


Dominguez represented the Philippine government at the May 6 to 7 business sessions of the ADB Board of Governors at the Pacifico Yokohama Conference Center held in Japan.

The top Philippine finance official describes the ADB’s 50th year of existence as a “fitting time to review the work it has done and rethink its future role in light of the Asia-Pacific’s ascent as a global driver of economic growth.”

“In a word, our world has grown. It has also changed. The member-economies have new needs. The Bank must rethink its own programs to continue being relevant,” he added.

The ADB is expected to promote inclusive growth and reduce inequalities in the region against a backdrop of rising protectionism, as well as what Dominguez described as “increased inclination for autarky,” and a “possible outbreak of old hostilities, as well as calamities triggered by climate change.”

Acknowledging ADB as one of the Philippines’ biggest sources of official development assistance (ODA),
Dominguez said there is still “much room for improvement” in tailoring the assistance the Bank provides through “well-coordinated and innovative” financing strategies to fit the country’s ODA needs, particularly in helping fund its planned massive investments in infrastructure and human capital formation.

“The increase in the magnitude of the Bank’s capacity to support regional development will, I hope, not diminish its agility and its flexibility. We find ourselves in a world very different from the conditions obtaining 50 years ago,” he added.

There are social tensions in the region, which Dominguez said take the form of rising protectionism, a growing distrust for trade and an increased inclination for autarky, aggravated by threats of a possible outbreak of old hostilities and massive calamities triggered by climate change.

“We understand that the social tensions underlying the reaction derive from highly uneven growth in many of the economies in the region. While managing geopolitical tensions is beyond the Bank’s mandate, this institution should play an effective role in fostering inclusive growth and reducing disparities,” he said.

Dominguez also called on the ADB to “redefine its niche in the new universe of multilateral development banks” and collaborate closely with these institutions to “optimize capacities and make our responses to both challenges and opportunities more timely.”

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