Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has underscored the need for the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank to closely coordinate efforts and explore their complementarities to more effectively accelerate sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.
On behalf of the Philippines, Dominguez said during the recently concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 23rd Finance Ministers Meeting that close coordination between the two multilateral institutions will help weed out duplications in their functions and help them respond more effectively to the region's financing needs.
Aside from the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam also called on the ADB and World Bank to work in synergy and complement their efforts in alleviating poverty in the region.
“From the point of view of the governor of both institutions, I don’t see the necessity for spending so much overhead in duplicating the offices of both ADB and the World Bank around the region. From the point of view of the client, why do we have to deal with two bureaucracies for the same purposes?” stressed Dominguez.
“So I’d like to suggest, especially on behalf of the smaller countries, that ADB and World Bank consider becoming more closely coordinated, and perhaps look for areas where they can cut their own internal costs in servicing the other needs of ASEAN,” he added.
Dominguez represents the Philippines in the Governors’ Boards of the ADB and the World Bank.
He made the statement after the presentations before the ASEAN Finance Ministers by the ADB and World Bank about their respective institutions’ financing programs in the region.
During the recent finance ministers’ meeting held in Chiang Rai, Thailand, World Bank Acting Chief Economist for East Asia and Pacific Andrew Mason discussed the institution's partnership and financing support for sustainable development in the region, while ADB President Takehiko Nakao presented the bank’s innovative financing approaches for sustainable infrastructure in ASEAN.
After the presentations made by the ADB and World Bank, Dominguez also took the opportunity to thank the two multilateral institutions for helping the Philippines develop new reform policies and secure infrastructure financing support for its “Build, Build, Build” program.
Of the 75 flagship projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program, 44 are under various stages of implementation, 24 are under pre-investment studies and the remaining seven are up for review.
“I’d like to express our appreciation for the support of the ADB and World Bank both in the assistance they have provided in developing new reform policies and in helping us get new infrastructure financing on board for the Philippines. Our engagement with ADB has been the most intense I think in the last 20 years; so with the World Bank,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez and his fellow ASEAN finance ministers also thanked the World Bank and ADB for their continuous support to development efforts in the region, which encompass a wide range of concerns that include human capital development, disaster risk management, education, technology, transport, infrastructure, environment and energy.
During an earlier phone conversation with former United States' treasury undersecretary and now World Bank president David Malpass in February, Dominguez told him that a close collaboration between the World Bank and ADB will enable both institutions “to build on each other’s strengths.”
Dominguez, who, on behalf of the Philippines had backed Malpass’ nomination as World Bank president, said the latter’s leadership of the institution is a good opportunity for it to work closely with ADB.
The Finance chief said this close collaboration would prove effective for the two institutions, given the ADB's "operational efficiencies and strong balance sheet, its in-depth knowledge and understanding of the region and the culture of its people because of its proximity, its sensitivity to the unique development needs of the region, and as a trusted brand in infrastructure finance.”