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ADB brings together experts to find formula for speedy recovery in Southeast Asia


The Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s president, Masatsugu Asakawa, has set up a panel of experts in the subjects of economics, finance and health to help ministers, central bank governors and other senior officials in Southeast Asia identify options that they can tap into to quickly bounce back after the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“We are providing a platform for ministers and well-known experts to discuss the immediate challenge posed by Covid-19 and identify areas worthy of additional analysis for the future,” Asakawa said during an online event on Tuesday (June 9).  

“The second and third waves of the disease are possible -- indeed likely -- and further economic decline would be costly. Countries face a whole host of cross-cutting issues that affect people and businesses. They have already learned useful lessons and can benefit from sharing these with each other.” 

The virtual event drew senior officials from the region’s three largest economies, namely Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and the Philippines’ Finance Secretary Carlos G Dominguez, both of whom are ADB governors, as well as the Philippines’ central bank governor and ADB alternate governor Benjamin Diokno as well as the country’s acting secretary for Socioeconomic planning Karl Chua. Also present in the meeting was Bank of Thailand governor Veerathai Santiprabhob. 

The high-level officials exchanged views with eight international experts, namely:  

Jane Halton, chair of the Coalition for Epidemics Preparedness Innovation and former secretary of the Australian departments of health and finance; 

Rema Hanna, Harvard Kennedy School; 

Karen Tay Koh, former Singapore Ministry of Finance official and former deputy CEO of SingHealth; 

Ramayya Krishnan, Carnegie Mellon University; 

Anup Malani, University of Chicago; 

Raghuram Rajan, University of Chicago, former governor of the Reserve Bank of India and chief economist of the International Monetary Fund; 

Andrew Sheng, Asia Global Institute; 

Nicholas Stern, London School of Economics; former head of the United Kingdom’s Government Economic Service and former chief economist of the World Bank. 

The panel, moderated by ADB vice-president Ahmed M Saeed, discussed lessons learned as countries took immediate measures to address the pandemic’s devastating impact on health, social, economic, and finance, as well as their medium- to long-term priorities. They also covered topics such as the need for structural reform, innovation in domestic resource mobilisation, and how to make recovery sustainable amid global headwinds. 

ADB had on April 13 announced a US$20 billion package to support developing member countries with their Covid-19 response. ADB has since approved $7.2 billion in rapid response loans and technical assistance, including nine interventions under the Covid-19 pandemic response option (CPRO) totalling $5.52 billion for Bangladesh, Bhutan, Georgia, India, Indonesia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal and the Philippines. 
Indonesia has received $1.5 billion for countercyclical response and $3 million in grants to shape the government’s immediate health response. The Philippines has received $1.7 billion for countercyclical support and social protection, and $3 million in grants to set up a Covid-19 testing laboratory. ADB staff is working on helping other Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, as well as other countries in the Asia and Pacific region. 
The high-level dialogue is supported by a $5 million technical assistance grant, which ADB approved on April 24. The grant will help countries receiving CPRO funding monitor their Covid-19 response and guide them in preparing recovery strategies and action plans.

Published : June 10, 2020

By : The Nation