The Philippines is seeking more leeway to speed up distribution of resources by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter sent by e-mail to the ADB’s country governors, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, ADB governor for the Philippines, said “utmost efficiency and effectiveness” were needed “now more than ever” in the Manila-based lender.
Dominguez called on his fellow governors “to empower our trusted ADB president and the bank’s management to work alongside governments of developing member-economies in dealing with the crisis in a highly responsive manner.”
ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa was furnished a copy of the letter, the Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement on Thursday (March 26).
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” Dominguez’s letter read.
“A certain degree of discretion ought to be provided to the president on administrative matters, such as allocating the bank’s budget and authority to approve crisis-related programs and projects, within reasonable limits,” Dominguez told his fellow governors, referring to the ADB president.
In light of the pandemic, Dominguez said that for the ADB to “stand taller,” its board of governors needed to “take bold action.”
“Among international financial institutions, the ADB is at the forefront of decisive measures to help defeat COVID-19,” Dominguez said, adding that the lender’s decisive measures under Asakawa’s watch since February would “spell a difference in the lives of many.”
The ADB earlier made available an initial $6.5-billion “rescue” package to both the public and private sectors of its developing member-countries, including its host-country, the Philippines, which already secured a $3-million grant to buy medical supplies and equipment.
“While the immediacy of addressing the health impacts of COVID-19 is upon us, the bigger challenge facing governments and leaders now is how we can collectively address the inevitable economic fallout that will result from this pandemic,” Dominguez said.
The ADB had moved and scaled down its governors’ board meeting to the Philippines on May 22, postponing the earlier plan to hold four-day meetings in South Korea.
For most member-countries, their governors’ designated representatives who were already based in Manila would attend on their behalf, the ADB had said in an advisory.
Separately, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in which the Philippines also gained membership, said it was “working to scale up infrastructure investment—including in public health, healthcare and information and communications technology (ICT)—to better serve members impacted by COVID-19.”
“There has never been a greater need for a multilateral and truly global coordinated effort to ease the economic burden experienced by all,” said the multilateral lender based in China, where the pandemic started.
“We have a responsibility to our members who face tremendous pressure to maintain the health and safety of their citizens while managing the impact of an economic downturn,” AIIB said.
“It is our duty to be flexible and responsive in a time of crisis so our members can continue investing in sanitation, health care and technology-enabled infrastructure,” AIIB chair and president Jin Liqun said.
Citing its recent study, the AIIB said there was “direct correlation between quality of overall infrastructure and health security, indicating that infrastructure development is a key part of health security and epidemic preparedness.”
“The COVID-19 virus has exposed the critical need for countries to also ensure preparedness for the needs of an aging population,” the AIIB added.
The AIIB said it “will announce a number of public health infrastructure financing options for its members in the coming days and weeks, to help build up economic resilience and mitigate the impact of future health crises.”
Last Wednesday (March 25), Dominguez said that besides the ADB and the Washington-based World Bank, which already committed to extend a $100-million loan for the Philippines’ fight against COVID-19, the AIIB was another multilateral institution that the country wanted to tap for up to $2 billion in funds needed to aid displaced workers, better equip the health sector, and keep the economy running.
Edited by TSB
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.