MANILA (UPDATE)- The Philippines is urging the Asian Development Bank to "substantially expand" its loan portfolio for the next 5 years to boost recovery of developing member-countries from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a speech during the ADB Governors’ Seminar held Monday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the plea could mean increasing the lender's capital base.
“In order to be responsive to critical needs, the ADB must level up. Specifically, there is a need for the bank to seriously consider a substantial expansion in its loan portfolio in the next five-year period. This will effectively support its member-countries’ recovery even if this brings forward the need for a capital increase,” Dominguez said.
With its healthy macroeconomics fundamental and manageable debt-to-GDP ratio, the Philippines has taken out loans in order to boost its COVID-19 response capacity.
Dominguez said the Philippines supports the call for developed countries, lenders and other global organizations to ensure accessibility of vaccines for low-income economies.
He said there should be equitable distribution of vaccines to lower-income countries to achieve recovery, pointing out some "uneven" response to the pandemic.
The finance chief said there is a need to rebuild economies to adjust to the new challenges due to the pandemic such as accelerating the use of digital technologies, artificial intelligence and increasing investments in clean and renewable energy for sustainable recovery.
“This crisis is a great opportunity for the ADB to continue to demonstrate that it has indeed become a more responsive, agile, and flexible institution as envisioned in its Strategy 2030,” Dominguez said.
In the same event, ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa responded, noting they are already under enormous pressure to lend more and that governments should invest in education and health of its people to speed up recovery.
He assured the ADB will clearly outline its climate change agenda as a Multilateral Development Bank partner of Climate Action ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) set for November this year.
The ADB earlier said the Philippine economy could grow at least 4.5 percent this year, lower than its initial forecast of 6.5 percent.