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ADB meet to focus on poverty, unemployment

Billed as the financial Olympics, the annual general meeting of the Asian Development Bank will open on Wednesday in Hyderabad.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 16:50 IST

Billed as the financial Olympics, the annual general meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will open on Wednesday in Hyderabad,with focus on Asia's challenges and tackling poverty through infrastructure-led growth.

The 39th annual meet, being held in India after a gap of 16 years, will be attended by over 3,000 delegates from across the globe including Finance and Economic Affairs Ministers from 64 countries, captains of the banking industry, senior government officials, ministers and representatives of international financial organizations and NGOs.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will participate in the deliberations on May 5, while Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram will chair the meeting.

The four-day mega event being hosted at the country's largest convention centre -- Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) -- will discuss a wide range of issues including key trends in international economy and their implications for Asia, private capital flows and financial market development in Asia, infrastructure development through public-private partnership and labour market strategies.

ADB has projected the region to grow at 7.2 per cent in 2006 and seven per cent in 2007, a marginal easing from 7.4 per cent.

It also said that 50 crore people, representing over 29 per cent of the total labour force in Asia, are unemployed or underemployed in the region, arguing that growth alone could not broadbase jobs in the area.

"The countries in the region should increase public investment in rural infrastructure and promote diversification of production activities into new areas to provide employment to these people," ADB said in its recent book on Labour Market.

The annual general meetings are statutory occasions for the ADB members to provide guidance on the bank's administrative, financial, and operational directions.

This is the second time that India is hosting the meet, the previous occasion being in New Delhi in 1990.

Among the issues expected to figure prominently at this year's annual meeting are ADB's medium-term strategy, global imbalances affecting Asia, India's and South Asia's role in a region that is rapidly integrating and the country's massive infrastructure needs.

Ahead of the meeting, the Finance Minister Chidambaram had exuded confidence that the ADB funding to India would be scaled up to 2.65 Billion US Dollar by 2008 from the present level of 2.25 Billion USD, a major chunk of it going towards transport, energy and urban development sectors.

India, a founder member of ADB, is its fourth biggest shareholder after Japan, the US and China.

India had started borrowing from ADB in 1986 and so far accessed USD 14 billion in loans, focusing on energy, transport and communications sectors.

While Left parties and their affiliated trade unions and some NGOs have raised concerns over the adverse impact of ADP-funded programmes on Third World economies, Chidambaram had made it clear that there were no conditionalities attached to the ADB loans.

"It is in the country's interests to access ADB loans. The Bank has played a key role in mitigating poverty in many regions in Asia. It has been an important partner in our march to progress and will continue to play this role," Chidambaram had told reporters here on Sunday after reviewing the arrangements for the mega event.

First Published: May 02, 2006 16:50 IST