By Lawrence Agcaoili, April 10 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has called on multilateral lending agencies to closely coordinate efforts and explore their complementarities to more effectively accelerate sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.

During the recently concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations 23rd Finance Ministers Meeting, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said that close coordination between the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank would 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 multilateral institutions 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 the 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?” Dominguez said.

Dominguez represents the Philippines in the governors’ boards of the ADB and the World Bank.

“So I’d like to suggest, especially on behalf of the smaller countries, that the  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 said.

Dominguez 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 the Pacific Andrew Mason discussed the institution’s partnership and financing support for sustainable development in the region.

Likewise, ADB president Takehiko Nakao presented the bank’s innovative financing approaches for sustainable infrastructure in the ASEAN.

After the presentations made by the ADB and World Bank, Dominguez also took the opportunity to thank the two multilateral lending institutions for helping the Philippines develop new reform policies and secure infrastructure financing support for its massive infrastructure program.

Of the 75 flagship projects under the government’s massive infrastructure build up, 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.