KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Takehiko Nakao held a discussion today on how the bank can support Malaysia in areas such as water, urban transport and renewable energy.
This included the possibility of lending to help Malaysia incorporate more advanced technologies, diversify its project funding sources, and address debt sustainability, the bank said.
“ADB’s assistance will foster inclusive growth, enhance institutional capacity, improve government efficiency and promote climate change actions,” ADB said in a statement.
Dr Mahathir and Nakao agreed on the importance of the bank’s continued engagement with upper-middle-income countries such as Malaysia, based on ADB’s Strategy 2030 in support of these areas, it said.
Nakao, who last met Dr Mahathir in Kuala Lumpur in March 2013 shortly before taking office at ADB, congratulated the prime minister on his administration’s reform efforts during its first year, including measures to use financial resources efficiently for development projects, strengthen anti-corruption initiatives, and enhance Malaysia’s business ecosystem.
He praised the country’s strong macroeconomic conditions, including solid growth, price stability, current account surplus and a healthy level of foreign exchange reserves.
Nakao also expressed support for the government’s policy of promoting new growth sectors and upgrading the skills of Malaysian workers.
“I appreciate the government’s efforts to balance its growth objectives with the need for prudent fiscal management to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth.
“The stronger emphasis on poorer states will help narrow the development gap and improve the living standards of the bottom 40 per cent of the population in line with the government’s vision,” he said.
Nakao, who is on a two-day visit to Malaysia, has also met Finance Minister and ADB governor Lim Guan Eng, Bank Negara Malaysia governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, and Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.
Malaysia joined ADB as a founding member in 1966. Since then, Malaysia has received US$2 billion in ADB assistance for 77 investment projects, most of them during the 1980s and 1990s, in sectors such as agriculture, education, energy, and transport.
The last ADB loan to Malaysia was approved in 1997 for a skills development project.
ADB said in recent years, it had also provided technical assistance to several states in Malaysia to help develop green cities, renewable energy, integrated transport solutions, and special economic zones.
It was currently helping Malaysia improve civil servants’ capacities to manage economic development and project management, among others, it said.
ADB’s partnership with Malaysia has also fostered regional cooperation, it said whereby it has supported two regional cooperation initiatives, the Indonesia–Malaysia–Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT–GT) and the Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP–EAGA).
ADB is the key development partner and advisor for both programmes.
In April 2019, Malaysia, along with the other ASEAN members, ADB, and other partners launched the ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility, under the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF), a regional financing initiative administered by ADB.
Malaysia is the largest AIF shareholder from ASEAN, and the new facility will support green infrastructure in Southeast Asia and aims to spur US$1.3 billion in green infrastructure investments.
In 2018, ADB made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to US$21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members, of which 49 are from the region.