India - “We are very upset. ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda
did not answer our questions concretely and categorically,”
said Princess Nemenzo, International Convener of the NGO Forum on
ADB, after a meeting with the ADB president, the Forum said in a
The Forum, an Asian-led network of civil society organizations monitoring
ADB’s projects and policies since 1992, said civil society
organisations from all over Asia and Pacific region were once again
disappointed with the ADB president for completely evading the issues
on corruption, mismanagement, and social and environmental destructions
connected to the Bank’s funded projects.
He only gave them his usual rhetorical statements that ADB is preventing
corruption, promoting transparency and people’s participation,
and is really concerned in reducing poverty incidence in the Asia
and Pacific Region.
ADB only consulted 37 unknown people for the Melamchi Project. NGOs
and the local communities who are against the project were never
consulted. Gopal Siwakoti Chintan of WAFED-Nepal said during a media
briefing by the Forum. “The president did not respond to calls
by local communities for better and cheaper alternatives to expensive
projects,” he added. Civil society organisations are pointing
out to ADB’s non-implementation of its Safeguard Policies
resulting in displacement of communities and environmental destruction.
“The Safeguard Policies should not be made just flexible but
mandatory. Lest, it would have great negative impact on poor communities,”
said Mishka Zaman of Bank Information Center.
Bruce Rich of the Environmental Defense Fund-USA also said that
there is a wide disconnect between the minds of the management of
ADB and the affected communities.
“Project after project, ADB does not address the concerns
in the ground. The president keeps on saying that ADB will address
the concerns of the local communities. But no actions have been
made until now,” he was quoted in the Forum statement as saying.
On debt cancellation, the Bank remained silent. The G-8 already
agreed last year to cancel the debt of 18 countries, mostly from
“The World Bank-IMF and the African Development Bank as well
followed suit and cancelled the multilateral debt of these countries.
However, ADB has remained silent on the issue,” said Princess
India – Protestors took to the streets last week as the Asian
Development Bank held its annual meeting on expanding free trade
in a region which is home to two-thirds of the world's poor.
of the People’s Forum and trade unions burn effigys
against the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Governor’s
meeting in Hyderabad last week. Protestors took to the streets
here as the Bank held its annual meeting on expanding free
trade in a region which is home to two-thirds of the world's
More than 1,000 people beating drums and carrying banners rallied
against the lending policies of the ADB and the World Bank which
they branded as anti-poor, witnesses said.
Several hundred protestors had already demonstrated during the early
morning in this southern Indian city to protest the “anti-people
policies” of the multilateral agency.
Wearing black headbands, brown and green jackets proclaiming “Destroy
ADB” and “Go back ADB”, the demonstrators, including
women and children, shouted slogans against the Manila-based lender.
“ADB hands off our water, our health, our forests, our livelihood
and our environment,” a huge banner read.
“These agencies are undemocratic and push their own agenda
without listening to our voices,” said Murad Hussian, head
of a 70-member group from India’s eastern state of West Bengal.
The People’s Forum Against ADB, an umbrella group of more
than 70 non-governmental organisations, also kicked off a “parallel
session” in Hyderabad to highlight the plight of people displaced
by ADB projects, what it claims to be the lack of accountability
of the ADB and other social issues.
“The ADB, like the World Bank, has become the custodian of
private investment and the promoter and protector of corporate interests
and profits,” said Gururaja Budhya, a People’s Forum
“The projects of the ADB continue to displace hundreds of
thousands of people across the region with little or no compensation,”
he said. “The ADB creates development refugees and manufactures
poverty.” On Friday, the People's Forum was planning a rally
in Hyderabad and more than 7,000 people were expected to attend.
More than 3,000 delegates including finance ministers, business
leaders and representatives from global organisations are attending
the ADB’s 39th annual meeting to focus on Asian development
ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said the major challenge was to bridge
the widening gap between rich and poor and to ensure that the poor
benefit from economic growth even as the lender plans to double
its funding for India to $2.65 billion by 2008 to help expand necessary
access to basic services.
“Broad-based growth can only be achieved if people have basic
access to clean water and sanitation, and if the poor are provided
with education and training to get jobs,” Kuroda said.
The ADB is also expected to finalise a new medium-term strategy
for Asia at the annual meeting.
“I expect the strategy will confirm ADB’s fundamental
goal of poverty alleviation and intensify our focus on a few key
areas as well as regional cooperation and integration," Kuroda
He said record-high oil prices will soften as they are unsustainable.
The statements came as oil prices headed back toward an all-time
high of $75.35 (Rs 7,750) a barrel hit on April 21 amid ongoing
concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
“At $75 per barrel, it’s unsustainable. Some geopolitical
events may destabilise the market. But apart from that, the current
level is very high,” Kuroda said.
The formal sessions of the ADB meeting ran from May 5 to 6 with
various meetings taking place in the run up to the official opening.
oil prices could weaken Asia’s strong economic growth, the
president of the Asian Development Bank warned last week, adding
that producer and consumer nations should work together to lower
Asia’s economy grew by 7.4 percent last year, and is expected
to expand another 7.2 percent this year. But “if the high
level of oil prices continue, it will affect the growth outlook
of the Asia-Pacific region,”' ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda
of the ADB, Haruhiko Kuroda.
He was speaking on the first day of the bank’s annual meeting,
this year being held in Hyderabad, a key information technology
centre in one of the region’s economic powerhouses.
”The oil producers and consumers should sit together and find
a sustainable price level,” Kuroda said.
Rising oil prices, these days hovering above the $70 (Rs 7,200)
mark, are expected to be discussed at the conference, which ends
Saturday, along with talks on key trends in the international economy
– from information technology to labor – and their implications
Iran’s deputy oil minister, M. H. Nejad Hosseinian, said last
week in India’s capital, New Delhi, that the price of a barrel
of oil could hit the $100 mark this coming winter as demand outpaces
”Oil supply in the short term cannot be increased,”
he told reporters.
Kuroda said the best way for emerging Asian economies to tackle
high oil prices is to raise their energy efficiency. He added the
ADB is willing to help.
”We have financed many energy efficiency projects in the past,
but annually the amount isn’t so big, so we intend to multiply
our efforts,” he said.
Kuroda said the ADB would provide loans worth $1 billion to member-countries
to undertake clean energy projects in the coming years. The new
loans would be disbursed by 2008, he said.
“Because of a rapid economic growth in Asia, the region has
been suffering from environmental degradation. We have to protect
the environment,” he said.
Delhi, India – At least half a billion people in developing
Asia are unemployed or underemployed and finding ways to provide
them productive jobs should top economic agendas around the region,
according to Labor Markets in Asia: Issues and Perspectives, an
ADB book launched last week.
Asia has made significant progress in reducing poverty over the
last two decades, but almost 1.9 billion Asians still survive on
less than $2 a day. There are many causes of poverty, but in the
final analysis poverty exists because people are either unable to
find work or earn too little from the work they do, according to
Out of a total labour force of around 1.7 billion, at least 500
million people in the region are unemployed or underemployed on
conservative estimates, the book notes, and some 245 million people
are expected to join Asia’s labor market over the next decade.
“The outlines of an Asian employment crisis are already taking
shape,” says ADB Chief Economist Ifzal Ali. “Strong
economic growth alone will not solve the problem. Even in countries
that have achieved relatively high growth rates of output, employment
growth has been disappointing. Governments must focus on achieving
full, productive, and decent employment for their people if their
economies are to provide equitable growth and development.”
The challenge of generating jobs in many countries is particularly
acute in the formal sector where employment entails higher earnings,
a degree of job security, and social benefits. The share of formal
employment in many Asian countries has declined or stagnated in
recent years despite economic growth.
There are two dimensions to this phenomenon. First, agricultural
employment, which tends to be overwhelmingly informal, has been
slow to decline as a share of total employment in a number of countries,
especially in South Asia. In India, for example, agriculture continues
to account for a majority of total employment in the country.
Second, many new jobs being generated outside of agriculture are
also in the informal sector. The book notes that this is a break
from the past when economic growth and expansion of employment in
the formal sector went together.
The book discusses the key elements of an overall policy package
to address Asia’s employment challenge and points out that
while labour laws could be improved in some cases, they are not
the main drag on job creation. More flexible labour laws alone would
not spark a surge in new jobs. Among the key issues a successful
policy package would address are:
• The need to increase public investments in rural infrastructure
and the provision of agriculture extension services to raise productivity
in agriculture. Increased productivity on the farm would bring benefits
for the non-farm rural economy. Increased incomes from improved
farm productivity would also raise demand for non-farm outputs;
• The need for significant increases in the demand for labour
in the formal sector. The key to encouraging job growth in the formal
sector will come from policies that promote diversification of production
activities into new areas, especially labour intensive areas; that
facilitate restructuring of existing activities; and that foster
coordination between public and private entities.
“The potential of developing Asian economies is widely recognised,”
says Mr. Ali. “But unless Asian governments make job creation
a central national objective backed by time-bound, feasible, credible,
and measurable policies, the region may well remain plagued by huge
unemployment, underemployment, and poverty – and all the challenges