The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has operationally started working to create several regional hubs including New Delhi as one for South Asia, the bank’s president Takehiko Nakao said on Sunday.
“We are now trying to make several places including Delhi a kind of hub for the region, not only that country but the region, several like Delhi for South Asian countries and Kazakhstan for Central Asia,” Mr. Nakao said at a press conference marking the conclusion of the ADB’s 50th annual summit in Yokohama.
“We have already starting out-posting people, 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.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, India’s Governor to the ADB, had earlier urged the multilateral lender to establish a hub in New Delhi, so that it could expedite lending to development projects across the region.
Observing that the “time required to approve a proposal as well as the time lag between approval and disbursement of loans can be further reduced,” Mr. Jaitley had stressed that speedier financing would help lend an edge to the ADB. “I am sure you all would agree that speed is what will keep ADB ahead of others. In this context, 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.”
The ADB, given its objective of combating poverty, also needed to sharpen its focus on affordable renewable energy, and in the urban development context, both drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Jaitley said.
“The major challenges remain in the realm of user charges and financial sustainability of urban bodies,” he observed, adding that the bank could leverage its expertise to promote models that would focus on these challenges. Mr. Jaitley also exhorted the lender to step up its support for climate resilient agriculture and social infrastructure including health and education.
Mr. Nakao told reporters that the ADB had approved a new procurement framework as part of its efforts to reform the speed of procurement and project implementation.
“We will continue to strengthen our resident missions by providing them greater authority, and out-posting more staff,” he added.
India, is a founding member of the ADB and its fourth-largest shareholder. The bank’s current portfolio of financing in the country includes 87 sovereign loans totaling $13.2 billion.
(The reporter is in Yokohama at the invitation of the Asian Development Bank.)