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'Two Faces of Asia' Test Future of Development Bank

ADB officials debate how to deal with the economic success of many countries yet continued high levels of poverty in others. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The Asian Development Bank was created in nineteen sixty-six, two years after the African Development Bank. Today both of them are talking about needed reforms to better serve their member countries. Last month we looked at the issues in Africa where there is still widespread need for development aid.

The situation is different for the Asia-Pacific area. The Asian Development Bank was created to raise money from rich industrial nations for loans to support economic growth. Now there are surpluses in Asia, and less and less need for those loans.

Rajat Nag is managing director general of the bank; we called him in Manila. He says the bank is debating how to deal with the two faces of Asia. Economic growth in many countries has been great -- ten percent a year in China, for example. The bank's members have about two trillion dollars in savings that could be invested. Yet more than six hundred million people in Asia are still without clean water.

And Rajat Nag says by the year twenty-twenty, almost two billion Asians will still be living on less than two dollars a day. The bank will continue to be supportive for those countries, he says.

Many of the reforms that the bank is considering come from a report released in late March by an independent committee. Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda asked for a study looking ahead to two thousand twenty.

Supachai Panitchpakdi, head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, chaired the committee. He discussed the report during the bank's board of governors meeting last month in Kyoto, Japan. He urged the bank to change with Asia's economic rise but to continue its poverty reduction efforts in poor countries.

Rajat Nag predicts that reforms will help connect local borrowers with local lenders. Like other international lenders, the Asian Development Bank may also become more of a knowledge bank for technical aid. Mister Nag says the bank will be a partner and not a competitor of other development banks.

The proposed reforms will be examined over the next eight to ten months. Rajat Nag says a final plan might be presented and approved at next year's Asian Development Bank meeting in Madrid, Spain.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. Our report two weeks ago on the African Development Bank can be found at