Arun Jaitley’s comments at First Business Session of 48th ADB Annual Meeting at Baku
Following is the Text of the Statement of the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at the First Business Session of the 48TH Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at Baku, Azerbaijan today:
â€œMr. Chairman, Governors of ADB and Heads of Delegations, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It gives me immense pleasure to participate in the 48th Meeting of the ADB Board of Governors at Baku â€“ the â€˜city of windsâ€™- the largest city in the world below the sea level.
Mr. Chairman, through you, I would like to thank the Government and people of Azerbaijan for the warm welcome and splendid hospitality.
The devastating earthquake in Nepal last month has caused loss of precious lives and widespread damage. Nepal is our close friend and neighbor. We stand with them in coping with this tragedy.
At the last Annual Meeting at Astana, President Nakao had outlined few key initiatives to make ADB more relevant and more efficient. This included the plan to seek merger of ADF resources with OCR and reforming ADB.
We are pleased to note progress on both these areas. President Nakao deserves our appreciation for the highly consultative process through which the merger of ADF resources with OCR was managed. This was critical to securing the unanimous consent of all ADF donors.
To use the enhanced lending capacity, thus available, ADB has to build a strong project pipeline for implementation from 2017.
The Mid Term Review of Strategy 2020 focused on strategic direction and efficiency of operations. The emphasis on project implementation and greater role and authority to Resident Missions are steps in the right direction.
Global Economic Environment
We are meeting at a time when the global economy is looking slightly better than 2014 but not by much. Global growth in 2014 was lower than initially expected â€“ continuing the pattern of disappointing outturns as seen in earlier years. Beneath the headline numbers, increasingly divergent trends seem to be at work both in the developed and emerging market economies.
In midst of the continuing global economic vicissitude, the Asia-Pacific region appears to be the functional â€˜growth engineâ€™ for the world economy. Asian Development Outlook 2015 estimates Asia to grow at 6.3% in 2015 and 2016.
According to various estimates, India is expected to grow at 7.5-8.0% in both 2015 and 2016. This only reaffirms Indiaâ€™s fascinating growth prospects. In a time span of less than a year, our Government has taken a number of steps to revive the economy. Our goal is to place the Indian economy on a high and sustained growth trajectory through focus on infrastructure development, skills development, improving ease of doing business and economic reforms including comprehensive social safety net and fiscal discipline.
Mr. Chairman, it is heartening to see that though in 2014, ADBâ€™s total loans and grants operations, at US$13.5 billion, were slightly less than the previous year, the project co-financing has increased to over US$9 billion. ADBâ€™s increased focus on delivery has started showing results. The disbursements in 2014 were 17% higher than the past year. I am told that the contract awards have been the best in the past five years. We hope to see this emphasis on delivery to continue.