MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB's strategy in the Marshall Islands over the next five years will focus on supporting improvements to boost social services and private sector development.
According to the updated strategy for the country for 2007-2011, planned technical assistance projects will focus on increasing public sector productivity as a means to improve the delivery of public services, enhance the environment for private sector development, and boost governance.
"ADB's approach directly addresses the needs of the poor, and supports the Government's national development strategy and ADB's own strategy for the Pacific region," says Philip Erquiaga, ADB's Director General for the Pacific region.
The productivity of public sector employees coupled with governance continues to be a challenge in a Pacific island nation where the public sector accounted for 40% of GDP in 2004.
The labor force is expected to grow much faster than jobs are created, highlighting the need for private sector development and a strengthened emigration policy.
Recent indicators suggest that there have been some improvements in the education and health sector, and water and sanitation facilities. However, poverty indicators show an increasing trend. Thus, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals continues to be a major challenge for the country.
"As the only multilateral development bank with an active assistance program in Marshall Islands, ADB has an important role to play in helping the Government formulate a development strategy, and carry out economic reforms, institutional development, and structural adjustment," Mr. Erquiaga says.
For 2007-2008, US$2.96 million will be allocated from the Asian Development Fund (ADF). The allocation for 2009 will be subject to the results of the 2007 country performance assessment.
Since 1990, ADB has approved 11 loan projects to Marshall Islands from ADF totaling $74.1 million. ADB has also approved one loan project from its ordinary capital resources amounting to $4 million.