Finance ministers outline positions on ADB's mission
As the Asian Development Bank's annual meeting got under way, officials from member countries made opening statements. Some excerpts:
Seiichiro Murakami, vice minister of finance:
"We believe it is essential for the bank to strengthen partnerships through dialogue with donor countries, the governments in developing countries, civil society, the local communities, the private sector, and other development institutions. Strengthened partnerships with these stakeholders will then prove their worth in promoting structural reforms and governance in the countries of operations.
"At the same time, it is also necessary to strengthen the capacity of the inspection panel, an independent function to monitor ongoing ADB projects."
Ian Brooks, manager, department for international development:
"Development assistance is vital for poverty reduction, but it must be used in new ways. Too high a proportion of current resources is spent on small, non-strategic projects and is not targeted on the poor. We need a better coordinated and more coherent international development effort, which brings together all development actors behind country-owned poverty reduction strategies."
Rafael S. Buenaventura, Philippines Central Bank governor
"While we embrace the evolving role of the bank as a more prudent institution with a more comprehensive lending strategy, we also wish to raise certain points regarding the attachment of performance criteria to loans, particularly those relating to governance and corruption. Although the Macapagal-Arroyo government has visibly placed the improvement of moral standards in government and society high up in the national agenda, we nonetheless stress that such loan conditions must be reasonable, tailored to suit local conditions, and applied with an even hand.
"We welcome this partnership in nurturing good governance in the country, but such efforts should not be allowed to be a hindrance in the sense of creating unworkable rules that merely hamper the efficient functioning of the bureaucracy."
Tun Daim Zainuddin, finance minister:
"As globalization is a means to greater welfare and not an end in itself, Malaysia strongly believes that countries should be given the flexibility to ensure that balance is achieved between the pursuit of efficiency and competitiveness and the socio-economic aspirations of their people. This is because globalization per se attaches supreme importance to the wisdom of private enterprise and free markets. But the market has its deficiencies and has oftentimes failed. We cannot expect private enterprise or the free market system to uphold public interests, which is ultimately the responsibility of government."
Norman Chan Tak Lam, deputy chief executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority:
"The Asian Financial Crisis has made the work of poverty reduction more daunting and pressing. The recent slowdown in the U.S. economy and the renewed weakness in the Japanese economy have heightened the risks and uncertainties of the economic prospects of many Asian economies, at least in the short term. This is a timely reminder to us all of the fragility of the Asian recovery in an era of globalization of markets with highly volatile capital flows."
U Khin Maung Thein, minister of finance:
"... Myanmar has a right to ask for and receive financial assistance from the bank like other members. ADB should have an optimistic view of the country's development and ought to provide necessary financial assistance for environmental and basic human needs-supported projects, without political influence. So far, it is regrettable that the bank has overlooked Myanmar's endeavoring in developing the country and has suspended its financial assistance to Myanmar as before. We look forward to having normal relations for mutual benefit in the near future."