ADB Working on New Partnership Framework to Assist Thailand with Priority Programs

BANGKOK, THAILAND - ADB is planning a Partnership Framework with the Thai Government that will define priority areas for working together on national and regional programs in the medium term, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said today.

Speaking at the close of his three-day visit to the country, during which he met with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and senior Government Ministers and officials, Mr. Kuroda said the framework is expected to be finalized early next year.

"The Partnership Framework outlines how ADB can work with Thailand in its national development program and partner with the country as an emerging regional donor," Mr. Kuroda said.

He explained that ADB would be willing to support important infrastructure investments the Government is planning, such as the four-year Megaprojects Program, and further deepening of the Thai capital market that will enable the country to mobilize capital resources for its infrastructure development.

"Progress in both areas is key to enhancing Thailand's competitiveness in the globalized economy and maintaining robust economic growth over the long term," he said. "In both areas, ADB is strongly committed to supporting Thailand through technical assistance as well as financial products, combining both public and private sector programs."

ADB has been transforming itself into an institution that can better respond to the new development needs of countries such as Thailand, he said, introducing an array of new financial products to offer a competitive source of long-term financing and reduced transaction costs, while increasing its flexibility and efficiency.

ADB is exploring alternative operations and financing models for infrastructure development, and encouraging private sector participation. Further ADB support would not only be for megaprojects in the medium term, but other infrastructure investments over the longer term, he said. ADB is also prepared to provide technical advice in areas such as planning and evaluation, operations, pricing, and operation.

To herald a new era of partnership with Thailand, Mr. Kuroda yesterday took part in the inauguration of a new Resident Mission based in Bangkok jointly with Minister of Finance Thanong Bidaya. The resident mission, headed by J.P. Verbiest, will further enhance ADB's presence in Thailand and help strengthen its operational activities in the region.

Thailand has played a key role in regional and subregional cooperation initiatives, particularly in the Greater Mekong Subregion program. Mr. Kuroda said ADB recognizes and appreciates Thailand's valuable contributions to the GMS program, and looks forward to continuing to partner with Thailand in the area of regional cooperation and integration.

To date ADB has provided Thailand with 84 loans totaling $5.4 billion in various sectors including energy, transport and communications, social infrastructure, agriculture and natural resources and finance. More recently, ADB and Thailand have been collaborating on developing the country's domestic capital market and bond market. In May this year, ADB issued its debut Thai baht bonds in the country's domestic capital market, with a principal amount of B4 billion and a bullet maturity of five years.

ADB has also approved this year a total of $2 million in grant assistance for a comprehensive development plan of the regions of Thailand badly hit by the tsunami disaster of December 2004.