The donors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have confirmed replenishment of $4 billion to disburse as grant and technical assistance among the member countries in the next four years (2021-2024).
The amount is around 7% higher than the previous replenishment – for four years from 2017 to 2020.
Some $3.5 billion of the total replenishment will be allocated for the Asian Development Fund (ADF) 13 and the remaining $0.5 billion for the Technical Assistance Special Fund (TASF) 7.
Over $2.3 billion, about 58% of the total resources will be funded by 30 donors and the remaining $1.7 billion will be funded by internal resources of the ADB.
The decision came from the replenishment meeting held on the eve of the second stage of the ADB's 53rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors.
The two-day meeting was organised in a virtual and abbreviated format due to the Covid-19 pandemic, said a press release issued from the ADB headquarters.
"We highly appreciate our donors' support for ADF 13 and TASF 7, even as their own economies are under pressure from the heavy health and economic toll of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic," said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.
He also said, "Our assistance will be critical in responding to the COVID-19 crisis and building an inclusive and sustainable recovery in the poorest and most vulnerable countries of the region."
The president of the ADB declared an upcoming regional hub to promote knowledge sharing and strengthen cooperation on tax policy and tax administration across the member countries at a seminar arranged as a part of the meeting.
The ADB release also said the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a devastating toll in terms of human lives and health, jobs, growth, and economic progress in Asia and the Pacific.
The priority areas targeted in ADF 13 include quality infrastructure in line with the G20's principles, strong governance, development of private sector operations, and debt sustainability through the implementation of the Sustainable Development Finance Policy.
Regional hub to help improve tax cooperation
The ADB is establishing a regional hub to promote knowledge sharing and strengthen cooperation on tax policy and tax administration across economies in Asia and the Pacific and their development partners, said Masatsugu Asakawa in a seminar.
He said, "I firmly believe that one of the keys to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a world reshaped by Covid-19 will lie in strengthening domestic resource mobilisation (DRM) and international tax cooperation (ITC)."
Despite many developing economies having maintained strong and steady gross domestic product (GDP) growth in recent years, tax yields have not increased proportionately.
Even prior to the pandemic, many economies did not achieve a minimum tax yield of 15% of GDP—a level now widely regarded as the minimum required for sustainable development.
The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation due to increased pressure on economies' expenditures and a decrease in tax revenue, leaving little room for further increase in external borrowing, revealed the ADB press release.
Finance and health ministers stressed for universal health
More than 40 finance and health ministers and deputy ministers from across Asia and the Pacific stressed the importance of universal health coverage and the need for stronger collaboration to mobilise healthcare financing during the meeting.
"We have to build health systems where people from all walks of life, including the elderly, the poor, and the vulnerable, can access health services at an affordable cost while maintaining these health systems' financial sustainability—even in aging societies that many countries in Asia and the Pacific are heading toward," said the ADB president in the meeting.
Japan's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso told the meeting, "We will strengthen our collaboration with the ADB, expecting that the ADB, as the regional family doctor, would uncover the assistance needs of the region and play a leading role in promoting universal health coverage."