Opening Press Conference Statement by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the ADB Annual Meeting Media Briefing, 2 May 2014, Astana, Kazakhstan (as drafted).
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us today. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to the Government of Kazakhstan for hosting this year’s ADB Annual Meeting. And I warmly thank the people of Astana for their gracious hospitality.
We at ADB are excited to be holding this event in Kazakhstan at a time when the country is experiencing a healthy growth spurt. Our recently released Asian Development Outlook projects 6% growth for Kazakhstan this year – the same rate as in 2013 – rising to 6.4% in 2015. As this morning’s International Investment Conference showed, Kazakhstan presents a wealth of opportunities, and these will continue to grow in years to come.
Kazakhstan is also an important member of the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation program, CAREC. As such, it plays a vital role in opening trade between East and West. In fact, the theme of the Annual Meeting is “The Silk Road: connecting Asia with the changing world.” Given its strategic location and involvement in CAREC, Kazakhstan has a central role in making this vision a reality. We look forward to a continued productive partnership with Kazakhstan to support its ongoing development.
This Annual Meeting is an opportunity for Governors and development partners to discuss the challenges facing the Asia and Pacific region, and how ADB can best respond. In my first year as President, we have studied these challenges extensively through our review of ADB’s long-term strategy – Strategy 2020. This Mid-Term Review shows that Asia’s dramatic transformation continues as poverty declines and more countries achieve middle income status.
But with the region’s successes come new challenges. They include widening inequalities, rapid urbanization, persistent environmental pressures, and increasing demands for employment growth and social protection. The region’s massive infrastructure deficit persists, and must be met with equally massive investments. And despite major declines in absolute poverty, a large proportion of people still live very close to its edge.
In the midterm review, ADB is proposing 10 strategic priorities that will improve our assistance to our developing member countries. I will be presenting these in some detail at the opening session on Sunday.
Another issue on which I want to share my thoughts with Governors is an innovative proposal to enhancing ADB’s own financial resources. ADB has two lending windows: Asian Development Fund (ADF) which offers concessional assistance to the poorest countries in the region; and Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR), which comprises the majority of our lending. We are looking at combining the two in a way that will allow us to leverage an expanded equity base, increase our lending capacity, and provide greater support to lower income countries. This unique, win-win proposal would allow ADB to increase its lending capacity by over 20% from both the OCR and the ADF windows while, at the same time, easing the financial burden on ADF donor countries.
In closing, let me once again thank the Government and the people of Kazakhstan for their efforts in hosting this meeting, and to you for coming out today. We have a busy few days ahead and I look forward to your participation.
I would now be pleased to answer any questions you may have.