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Public Sector (Sovereign) Financing

ADB offers the public sector different types of financial products, which includes loans, grants, technical assistance, guarantees, and debt management products.

Financial Products

ADB offers its developing member countries (DMCs) different types of financial products suited for varying needs and situations, all of which support governments in boosting economic growth and solving development challenges. Among these products are loans, grants, technical assistance, guarantees, and debt management products. These are financed from ADB's ordinary capital resources (OCR) as well as special and trust funds, of which the Asian Development Fund (ADF) is the largest. Middle-income countries borrow from ADB at near-market terms, while lower-income countries access loans at reduced rates. A number of DMCs can access the ADF for grants to improve the quality of life of the poor and vulnerable.

ADB offers its sovereign and sovereign-guaranteed borrowers London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR)-based Loans (LBL) with a floating rate based on 6-month LIBOR plus an effective contractual spread and a maturity premium (where applicable) that are fixed over the life of the loan.

The LBL is a market-based loan product that allows ADB’s efficient intermediation on the finest possible terms, provides transparent and market-based pricing, and meets borrowers’ needs to tailor currencies and interest rate basis to suit project needs and external risk management strategies.

Read: Overview of LIBOR-based Loans: Sovereign and Sovereign-Guaranteed Borrowers

Lending rates

To continue meeting borrowers’ evolving financial needs, ADB introduced the local currency loan (LCL) product in August 2005. Private sector enterprises and certain public sector entities including local governments and public sector enterprises may avail themselves of LCLs.

LCLs aim to reduce currency mismatches in DMCs. Under the LCL window, borrowers have the option of changing the interest rate basis of an LCL during the life of the loan by requesting an interest rate conversion to fix or unfix their interest rate, subject to regulatory approvals and relevant swap market opportunities available to ADB in the local market.

ADB offers loans at very low interest rates to help reduce poverty in ADB's poorest member countries, and bridge the development gap in the Asia and Pacific region. Concessional assistance to DMCs is meant to help them overcome development challenges, support inclusive and sustainable development, and make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. Large unmet development challenges, limited financing options, and the need to provide incentives to increase investment in regional public goods underlie the need for ADB’s continued concessional assistance to eligible DMCs.

ADB offers debt management products to members and entities fully guaranteed by members in relation to their third-party liabilities. In offering debt management products for third-party liabilities, ADB is able to contribute to the economic development of its DMCs by allowing members or guaranteed entities to improve debt management, thereby potentially reducing economic volatility, reducing borrowing costs, improving access to capital markets, and freeing up scarce financial resources for economic development.

Debt management products offered by ADB include currency swaps, including local currency swaps, and interest rate swaps. While currency swaps include the possibility of members or guaranteed entities transforming a foreign currency liability into a local currency liability, the reverse transformation of a local currency liability into a foreign currency liability is not offered.

Lending and Grant Modalities

Responding to the evolving needs of DMCs and the Asia and Pacific region as a whole, ADB's range of public sector loans and grants differ in purpose, focus, financing and disbursements, and implementation arrangements. 

The project loan is ADB’s most commonly used modality. It typically supports investments with a clear scope; tangible outputs; and the estimated cost of goods, works, and services needed to complete the project. ADB is highly involved and uses its own procedures in preparing and administering project loans. It is most suitable for projects needing capacity building support and for activities that might have adverse environmental and social impacts.

See: Operations Manual D11: Business Processes for Sovereign Operations (2017)

The sector loan finances numerous, smaller subprojects within a sector. ADB appraises sample subprojects before the sector loan is approved. The borrower then selects and appraises additional subprojects during implementation. This makes the sector loan more cost-efficient than a project loan. It is also more flexible and adaptable to changes in situation, needs, and priorities.

See: Operations Manual D3: Sector Lending (2003)

The financial intermediation loan (FIL) provides funding to target sub-borrowers through financial intermediaries. Under this modality, the borrower onlends ADB funds to eligible financial intermediaries, like local banks or other financial institutions. These then provide smaller loans at their own credit risk to sub-borrowers. FILs may target certain types of sub-borrower beneficiaries like micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises, women entrepreneurs, and low-income groups.

See: Operations Manual D6: Financial Intermediation Loans (2003)

The emergency assistance loan (EAL) helps rebuild high-priority physical assets and restore economic, social, and governance activities after disasters and emergencies. Designed for quick response from ADB, the modality allows for abbreviated business processes. In most cases, EAL operations are processed within 7 to 12 weeks. A quick-disbursing component allows for more flexible fund usage by the recipient. EAL also supports countries in building back better, improving resilience to future emergencies.

See: Operations Manual D7: Disaster and Emergency Assistance (2015)

The multitranche financing facility (MFF) supports complex projects that require a larger investment and longer commitment than a regular project loan could provide. ADB provides a series of tranches when the investments are ready and the borrower requests financing. The MFF can finance multiple projects under an investment program in a sector or in various sectors, as well as large standalone projects with substantial and related individual components with long-term implementation plans. It can also finance slices of long-term contract packages. This modality fosters a deeper relationship between ADB and the borrower, ensuring that a large-scale endeavor will have long-term support.


The policy-based lending (PBL) modality transfers loan amounts to the government’s general budget instead of paying for explicit project costs. This helps countries that may be facing a financing gap in their annual budget, and may need additional funds to pay for general development expenditures. PBL is disbursed only when the borrower completes policy reforms or actions that have been agreed with ADB (for example, reforms to improve revenue collection and management of public resources, create a more business friendly investment climate, or improve governance and performance of state-owned enterprises).

Conventional PBL types
  • A standalone PBL supports a single program of reforms in a sector over the short- to medium- term. Amounts may be disbursed in one or more tranches depending on the policy actions and timing of implementation agreed with ADB.
  • A programmatic approach comprises a series of subprograms over the medium-term. Policy actions are tied to each subprogram.
  • The contingent disaster financing option (CDF) provides quick-disbursing budget support in case of a disaster triggered by a natural hazard. The government completes reforms focused on disaster preparedness and response before a natural hazard occurs. When it strikes, the country can tap the CDF for urgent relief and recovery efforts.
  • A policy-based guarantee (PBG) is based on completing policy actions, but instead of providing a loan, ADB partially covers a government’s credit risk when it borrows from a private lender or issues a bond. By assuring lenders that ADB will cover the risk of non-repayment, the PBG gives countries access to more credit sources. It also allows the government to learn best practices in commercial borrowing.
Crisis-response PBL types
  • The countercyclical support facility helps deliver fiscal stimulus during an economic crisis.
  • The special PBL supports countries facing balance-of-payments difficulty.


The sector development program (SDP) finances a government’s reform program within a sector, as well as a specific investment project linked to the sector and program. It does this by combining investment lending (project, sector, or financial intermediary loan) with PBL. SDP fosters an integrated approach to a sector need and enhances ADB’s leverage for promoting policy and institutional reforms. The investment and policy-based components of the SDP complement each other: investments facilitate reforms in the short term, while reforms maximize the benefits of the project investment in the medium to long term.


The results-based lending (RBL) modality focuses on the positive change brought about by ADB's support rather than direct project expenditures. Because it finances government-owned programs and the delivery of their intended results, RBL relies on country systems for financial management, procurement, safeguards, and monitoring and evaluation. This increases government ownership, accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness. Under RBL, funds are disbursed when agreed program results are achieved and have been verified. RBL helps align the efforts of various government agencies toward a common set of results. It allows development partners to pool resources and share the same set of targets, coordinating their development assistance.


Project readiness financing (PRF) is a fast and flexible modality that supports activities expected to generate at least one ADB-funded project. It can pay for project preparation consulting services like detailed engineering design, capacity building, limited project startup support, and project design pilot-testing. Such work ensures high project readiness and minimizes startup delays during the initial phase of project implementation. PRF is generally limited to project preparation and design activities for follow-on investment projects expected to be financed by ADB.


The small expenditure financing facility (SEFF) provides quick and responsive support to DMCs' small financing needs that are linked to ADB-financed projects. The total estimated contract value of each activity should not exceed $15 million. Once the SEFF has been established, individual activities are processed as and when needed up to the maximum approved facility amount. The SEFF’s availability period is 5 years with a possible extension of another 5 years subject to approval by the ADB Board of Directors. The SEFF typically supports low-risk activities across the project cycle—covering preparation, implementation, pilot testing, and even post completion activities including operations and maintenance, rehabilitation, and post-disaster early recovery.


Technical assistance (TA) is generally grant-based and helps DMCs improve their capacities and make better use of their development resources.

Types of TA

Transaction TA supports a specific ADB-funded project. It may help to prepare an ensuing project, help deliver outputs or mitigate project risks under an ongoing project, or develop a specific public–private partnership project under transaction advisory services. Transaction TA can pay for feasibility studies, due diligence, preliminary engineering design, and preparation of cost estimates for proposed projects. During implementation, it can help develop capacity and provide policy advice. It also supports pilot testing of innovative project design.

Knowledge and support TA is not directly linked to an ADB funded project.  It focuses on knowledge sharing to build capacity, providing policy advice, and undertaking research and development. It can help develop a sector strategy, an investment master plan, a pipeline of future projects. Activities under this type of TA include DMC knowledge sharing and dialogue; regional cooperation initiatives and analytical work for better governance, efficiency, and equity; sector, thematic, and economic studies; flagship knowledge and innovative solutions including high-level technologies; and pilot-testing.

See: Operations Manual D12: Technical Assistance (2017)

The public–private partnership standby financing facility (PPPSFF) supports timely government payments to private PPP concessionaires. PPPSFF consists of a framework agreement covering up to 15 years. It can cover one project or a bundle of projects. The government can withdraw funds from the facility when needed, such as during a cash shortage because of revenue fluctuation. PPPSFF is suitable for governments wishing to expand PPP projects, particularly in non-energy sectors such as water and transport where projects are often not commercially viable without government financial support. The modality can support government obligations that are made over a long period and are contingent on the concessionaire’s performance.

See: Proposal for ADB’s New Products and Modalities: Policy Paper (2018)