Friday, May 01, 2009

An analysis of the Asian Development Bank's mission

With the announcement of more money for loans, the Asian Development Bank begins it's annual meeting to set policy for the upcoming year. The bank has had trouble pleasing it's critics after the economic expansions in China and India, and now the global depression.

From Forbes comes this analysis of the bank from reporter Stephen Wright.

Just two years ago, the Asian Development Bank was struggling with an identity crisis of sorts as a wave of new prosperity called into question its basic mission: lifting millions out of extreme poverty.

Now, as Asia sputters amid the global slowdown, the problem facing much of the region is no longer ensuring the fruits of rising affluence are spread evenly - but eking out any growth at all.

Armed with a much bigger war chest, the ADB - which starts its annual meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on Saturday - is renewing its pledge to fight poverty and preparing to take a bigger role in the region.

That might seem good news for Asia, but it's not universally welcomed. Some critics say its financing would be better left to the private sector while activists fault ADB-funded projects for harming the very people they aim to help.

On Thursday, the bank's 67 member countries approved a tripling of the ADB's capital to $165 billion, expanding the lender's ability to fight the global economic crisis and finance infrastructure and other projects in partnership with the private sector.

"We must do all we can to prevent the reversal of hard-won gains for our region in social and economic development, and in poverty reduction," ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said in a statement.

On the sidelines of the meeting, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations along with China, Japan and South Korea are likely to approve enlarging an emergency currency pool to $120 billion - and make the funds easier to access in a crisis.

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