MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will continue to strongly support the country as it undertakes efforts to overcome economic challenges amidst political transition, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said today.
Speaking at the conclusion of a four-day visit to Nepal, President Kuroda said the country has made significant gains in poverty reduction and several key human development indicators over the past decade, despite a lengthy civil conflict that only ended in 2006, compounded by Nepal's challenging topography and landlocked geography.
And while there are significant challenges arising from its current political transition, coupled with the effects of the global economic crisis and gaps in infrastructure development and institution building, President Kuroda said he is confident Nepal can overcome them.
"I strongly believe that Nepal has the potential to transform the current challenges into opportunities by staying the course on economic reforms, and ensuring equitable and inclusive growth by focusing on progressive social and human development," Mr. Kuroda said.
To help the government carry out its development program, ADB is more than doubling its country assistance to Nepal from $258 million in 2007-2008 to $559 million for 2009-2010, and is targeting about $287 million annually from 2011 to 2013.
"Our assistance includes a grant component of 50%, and will allow the Government of Nepal to focus on priority capacity building and social reforms," Mr. Kuroda added.
During his visit, Mr. Kuroda made field trips to various ADB-assisted projects in Lumbini and the surrounding areas, and met with the projects' beneficiaries. He visited the South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development project, where ADB is supporting development and improvement of infrastructure and services in Lumbini. He also visited the Skills for Employment project in Marchawar, which supports delivery of market-oriented, short-term training, particularly to women and the disadvantaged, to help them attain better wage and employment prospects. Mr. Kuroda also visited the Bhairawa-Bhumai road that was constructed under the ADB-assisted Subregional Transport Facilitation Project.
ADB's development assistance commitment towards Nepal is laid down in its Country Partnership Strategy 2010-2012, which aims to promote inclusive economic growth, along with social development, governance improvements, climate change adaptation, and environmental sustainability. To achieve these broad-based goals it is focusing its operations in six priority areas―agriculture and natural resources, education, energy, finance, transport, and municipal infrastructure and services.
Since ADB first started assisting Nepal in 1969, it has provided nearly $3 billion in concessional loans and grants for investment projects, and about $138 million in technical assistance grants.