Yokohama: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is developing New Delhi as a regional hub for its operations in South Asia to speed up decision-making and reduce time lag in implementing projects in the region.
India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley in his speech at the ADB’s 50th annual meeting in Yokohama on Sunday had proposed the same.
“I would strongly urge the Bank to set up a regional hub in New Delhi for South Asia region so that a majority of the proposals could be processed there speedily. Such hubs could be established in other regions, too,” Jaitley said in his speech.
This, Jaitley said, could reduce the time required to approve a proposal as well as the time lag between approval and disbursement of loans.
ADB president Takehiko Nakao during the closing press conference on Sunday said the Bank is trying to now make several places like Delhi for South Asia and Kazakhstan for Central Asia a hub for the region. “We have already started out-posting staff for private sector operations and also for procurement. We have already started working on the idea of a hub, but we have not announced this is a hub, but we are out-posting more people,” Nakao said.
In his closing address to the board of governors, Nakao said ADB will continue to pursue reforms to improve responsiveness and to streamline procedures. “ADB has just approved a new procurement framework to reduce overall procurement time, improve the quality of procurement outcomes, and strengthen the procurement delivery system. We will continue to strengthen our resident missions by providing them greater authority, and out-posting more staff. We will uphold the highest levels of environmental and social safeguards in all our projects and increasingly use country systems,” he added.
Jaitley in his address said in addition to sectors like energy, urban development and transportation, ADB needs to focus more on affordable renewable energy.
“In the area of urban development, especially in the sector of drinking water and sanitation, the major challenges remain in the realm of user charges and financial sustainability of urban bodies. The Bank needs to promote models that will focus on these challenges,” he said.
The finance minister also asked ADB to give more emphasis on climate resilient agriculture, better farm production technologies, improved value chain management and creation of better marketing infrastructure for the farm produce. “ADB also needs to focus more on social infrastructure like health and education,” he added.
Jaitley is on a three-day official visit to Japan to participate in the annual meeting of the board of governors of ADB, among others.
On Sunday, Jaitley held bilateral discussions with Japanese finance minister Taro Aso and called upon Japanese firms to set up facilities in India for manufacture of rolling stock for metro rail projects.
“Both the ministers noted the growing synergy between India and Japan and committed themselves towards working closely to further expand India-Japan bilateral economic cooperation,” a finance ministry statement said.
On Monday, Jaitley is scheduled to participate in an Investors’ Round Table Session in Tokyo and deliver the keynote address in the Spring Meeting of the Institute of International Finance.
Asit Ranjan Mishra is in Yokohama at the invitation of the ADB to cover its 50th annual meeting.