ADB to Open Bhutan Office in Early 2013

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will open an office in the South Asian nation of Bhutan in early 2013 to more efficiently manage a growing portfolio focusing on transport, energy and urban development.

“To understand Bhutan’s needs, and the development challenges it faces, ADB needs an on-the-ground presence,” said Juan Miranda, Director General of South Asia Department.

Bhutan has done well in achieving many Millennium Development Goals, but pockets of poverty still remain among its 720,000 people. As a landlocked nation, Bhutan needs to work closely with other countries to ensure it has efficient transport links, notably to seaports in Bangladesh, India, and elsewhere. Such regional cooperation is critical to ensuring the country’s future.

Bhutan’s government aims to achieve an economic growth rate of at least 9% per year and to become a middle income country by 2020. Earlier this month, ADB estimated a growth rate of 7.9% for the 2011-2012 fiscal year (ended 30 June 2012), and forecast a growth rate of 8.4% for the current fiscal year.

ADB’s future activities in Bhutan will be aligned with the government’s upcoming 11th Five Year Plan for 2013-2018 and focus on transport, energy, and urban development.

Bhutan joined ADB in 1982. Since 1983, ADB has approved $381.37 million in loans and grants, $50.5 million in technical assistance and $11.4 million in project grants from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. Some of the major projects ADB has supported in recent years include the Green Power Development Project, of more than $100 million, to support the Dagachhu hydropower development and enhance renewable energy access for the poor, and Road Network Projects I and II, totaling more than $65 million, to improve the country’s main road network, including the Trongsa-Gelephu Highway and southern East-West Highway.