US team leaves ADB meeting with no clear decision
RAY HEATH in Manila
Hopes of a quick deal on a key source of funds for poorer countries in the region faded yesterday when United States representatives at the Asian Development Bank meeting in Manila left without making proposals for meeting the country's share of the fund.
Donor nations are seeking new methods of financing the Asian Development Fund (ADF), which needs total commitments of about US$5 billion to meet its programme until 2000.
Jeffrey Shafer, the US Under-Secretary for International Affairs at the Treasury, flew out last night, promising only that Washington was prepared to contribute US$100 million of arrears to the existing tranche of the fund, but had no firm news on intentions for replenishing it.
Mr Shafer told a press conference that he saw no precise shape for the funding, but added: 'We want to conclude a deal and we want the US to play a role so that fund goes ahead in a normal fashion.' Negotiations were required both with the ADB and in Washington, he said.
He told the governors meeting that the ADF must have adequate resources to play its role in all of the developed countries in the region, and he gave assurances that the Clinton administration intended to continue the support the US had given in the past.
The US position on the fund was expected to be seen as a lead for participation by other ADB members, although Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam Chiu-kwong assured the ADB the territory was prepared to contribute $3 million.
He called for all members of the bank to contribute, and for action from the bank to provide its own resources to the fund.
Increasingly wealthy Asian countries were being urged to raise their contributions, or start contributing to the fund, although Singapore has already refused, leading to suggestions it should be excluded from any procurement contracts resulting from investments by the ADF. There were also suggestions at the meeting that the ADB's substantial reserves, or its income flows from outstanding loans, could be mobilised to meet the requirements of the ADF, which gives loans on favourable terms to assist development in poor countries.
When the fund is re-financed, China and India will be looking to benefit.
Delegates from both countries are pressing the Asian Development Bank to include them on the list of eligible countries.