ADB keen to boost financial resources to promote growth

The Asian Development Bank on Saturday pointed to the need to strengthen its financial resources to help Asia reduce poverty and achieve more economic growth as the region's financial chiefs gathered for the multilateral lender's annual meeting.

The ADB's operations last year came to a total of around $22 billion including about $8 billion in co-financing, but the figure "still falls far short compared with the needs of the region," ADB President Takehiko Nakao said in his speech delivered at the start of its two-day meeting in India.

The ADB needs to "step up efforts to leverage external sources of finance, including bilateral official sources," particularly from new and emerging donors, said Nakao, who took the helm of the Manila-based institution last Sunday.

Financial leaders and delegates from the 67 ADB member countries gathered in Greater Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi to explore ways to deal with energy, disaster management and other key issues in the region.

The ADB predicts that developing economies in Asia will expand 6.6 percent this year and 6.7 percent in 2014, up from 6.1 percent in 2012.

Nakao also said infrastructure in the developing Asian countries should be improved more to sustain growth, noting that the region's underdeveloped infrastructure could be a barrier to investment.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his speech at the inaugural session of the meeting that Asia needs to promote regional cooperation to accelerate development and reduce economic disparity.

"India is a firm believer in the benefits of regional integration...we stand committed to deep engagement with the countries of East and Southeast Asia," he said.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso told the meeting that Japan is committed to contributing to Asian economic growth, especially development of Myanmar, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.

He said enhancing economic ties with Asian neighbors has been "at the forefront" of the Japanese government, and the country will continue supporting emerging Asian countries through such measures as using concessional yen loans and strengthening financial cooperation.