ADB Considers ‘Frontloading’ Aid

To help deficit-stricken nations counter the ongoing global recession, the Asian Development Bank intends to scale up its capital immediately to effectively assist the region.

"We are considering front-loading and increasing our funds to help those countries most in need," said Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, ADB's vice-president for knowledge management and sustainable development, at a Feb. 18-20 regional forum convened by ADB and the International Labor Organization. "We are ready to increase quickly disbursing program lending and infrastructure financing."

A recent ADB paper entitled "Global Financial Crisis and Proposed ADB Response" suggested the agency spend an additional $3.4 billion by front-loading the Asian Development Fund and providing an extra $5 billion to $6 billion in response to the needs of borrowers from ordinary capital resources.

The supplementary funding will address social impacts of the global financial crisis by supporting social sectors, investing in urban and rural infrastructure to provide employment and income-generating opportunities, and bolstering social safety nets, Schaefer-Preuss said at the event in Makati City, Philippines.

The ADB vice president added that the regional lender is also looking at providing relevant and timely policy recommendations on social protection systems and safety nets as it is currently examining pension and insurance schemes as well as conditional cash transfers.

Stephen Pursey, director of ILO's policy integration and statistics department, welcomed ADB's moves to back social investments in the developing world amid the worldwide economic gloom.

"That's something the ILO is speaking about and very encouragingly the ADB is moving in that direction," he said.

ILO is calling on nations to stimulate their economies by boosting employment and incomes, social transfers and sustainable enterprises. The United Nations' labor agency is urging countries to include investments in infrastructure, social protection, business development, education and health care in their stimulus packages. At the same time, ILO has acknowledged that some nations do not have adequate pump-priming resources.

At last week's event, Pursey stressed that countries of stronger fiscal positions need to aid nations running with deficits in order to ensure a global coordinated recovery approach.

Sachiko Yamamoto, ILO regional director for Asia and the Pacific, said ILO will discuss ways to coordinate a global response to the financial crisis at its governing body's March 23 meeting in Geneva.

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.