ADB annual meeting stresses need to boost lending capacity

Financial leaders and delegates from the Asia-Pacific region stressed the need to strengthen the lending capacity of the Asian Development Bank, at the organization's two-day meeting that began Sunday in the capital of Kazakhstan.

The ADB "should pursue a more innovative approach to optimize its own resources in order to enhance its financial capacity and strengthen our support for poverty reduction," Takehiko Nakao, the president of the Manila-based organization, said in his opening address of the bank's 47th annual board meeting.

Nakao proposed combining the organization's two lending windows to provide greater support to lower income countries. At a news conference Friday, he pledged to boost the ADB's lending capacity by over 20 percent.

According to the ADB, over 700 million people in the region live below the extreme poverty line of $1.25 a day, accounting for as much as 60 percent of the world's poor.

The countries also discussed how to better tackle poverty reduction, climate change, and an infrastructure development gap, which are listed as among the 10 strategic priorities in the ADB's report to spur growth in the region by 2020.

In the afternoon, representatives from each member nation delivered a speech on their country's economic situation and efforts to assist poorer nations.

From Japan, Finance Minister Taro Aso pledged to provide enhanced assistance for infrastructure development in areas such as power and roads, which he described as vital for sustainable economic growth.

"We are committed to enhancing the cooperation with the ADB in addressing Asia's growing infrastructure needs. We will not only provide financial support but will also fully mobilize Japan's technologies, knowledge and experiences toward this effort," he said.

Aso also said Japan will strengthen support for disaster risk management and capacity building, and is prepared to host the 50th annual meeting in 2017.

That would be the first annual ADB conference to be held in Japan since 2007 when Kyoto hosted the 40th gathering.

On Monday, the annual meeting will be concluded by Nakao's closing press conference.

In a separate meeting of ASEAN nations and Japan, China and South Korea on Saturday, financial chiefs confirmed their commitment to enhancing financial cooperation to promote the resilience of local currency bond markets.