ADB pledges to develop regional infrastructure to combat poverty

The Asian Development Bank on Monday pledged to continue developing infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth.

At a closing press conference after an annual board meeting in the capital of Kazakhstan, ADB President Takehiko Nakao said the bank sees a "huge infrastructure financing gap" in the region and that poverty reduction and infrastructure development will remain the main focuses of the bank's operations.

"We will proactively seek opportunities for mobilizing private sector funds including through public-private partnerships," he said, adding the bank will also beef up its own financial capacity to provide greater support for low-income countries to build infrastructure.

According to the ADB, more than 1.6 billion people in the region live on less than $2 a day. To help reduce the number of poor people, the Manila-based organization also reaffirmed its commitment to continuing investment in the education, health and agriculture sectors.

The member nations also began talks on combining two lending sources for low-income nations and middle-income countries in 2017 to increase the bank's lending capacity. The president said he received "broad support for this proposal" during the meeting.

Nakao also pointed out the importance of supporting middle-income nations, as many of them face problems such as aging, urbanization, increasing inequalities and environmental degradation.

Asked about concerns raised by some member countries regarding the fairness and efficiency of the ADB's project implementation, Nakao vowed to grant more power to resident missions and work closely with civil society groups.

On the recent global economic situation, the president said many members raised concerns about "still unstable" conditions, noting "it is crucial to pursue prudent macroeconomic management and bold structural reforms."

The discussions came amid fears about an economic slowdown in emerging markets in the wake of the U.S. Federal Reserve's tapering of its large-scale asset purchases.

Next year's annual meeting will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. Japan has expressed its intention to host the bank's 2017 gathering.