Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has urged his fellow governors at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to empower its President Mr. Masatsugu Asakawa with more discretion in undertaking measures to address the health emergency associated with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and any resulting economic fallout.
In a letter to his fellow ADB governors, Secretary Dominguez said providing President Asakawa with some leeway, “within reasonable limits” in handling the institution’s budget and approving crisis-related initiatives will go “a long way in ensuring that timely and decisive action is taken by the Bank in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout that will follow.”
“Now more than ever, we, the Board of Governors of the ADB, should do our part to support the ADB Management in ensuring that its avowed functions are carried out with utmost efficiency and effectiveness. I therefore call on my fellow Governors to empower our trusted ADB President and the Bank’s Management to work alongside the governments of developing member-economies in dealing with the crisis in a highly responsive manner,” Secretary Dominguez said in his emailed letter sent to the other 67 governors of the Bank.
A copy of the letter was also furnished President Asakawa.
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. A certain degree of discretion ought to be provided to the President on administrative matters, such as allocating the Bank’s budget and authority to approve crisis-related programs and projects, within reasonable limits,” Secretary Dominguez added.
Secretary Dominguez pointed out that the global health crisis spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled governments to rethink their priorities and “force a paradigm shift in the way they deal with global concerns.”
Amidst and after this crisis, Secretary Dominguez said the ADB needs to “stand taller” among the other development institutions.
“This will require us, the Board of Governors of the ADB, to take bold action to realize that vision,” he said.
As societies adopt, and adapt to, radical steps needed to defeat COVID-19, Secretary Dominguez said the ADB’s array of decisive measures carried out since early February under President Asakawa proves that strong leadership translated into actions can “spell a difference in the lives of many.”
“Amongst international financial institutions, the ADB is at the forefront of decisive measures to help defeat COVID-19,” Secretary Dominguez said.
On top of providing a US$6.5 billion assistance package to its developing member-economies, along with grants and a private sector loan, the ADB has also kept the public regularly informed with its timely economic analysis of the impact of COVID-19, and continues to dialogue with international organizations and development partners on crafting global solutions to the virus-induced crisis, Secretary Dominguez noted.
“It is in these challenging times that we find the ADB Board of Directors and Management working closely, with swiftness and fierce determination, and leading with clear guidance and direction,” he said.
Secretary Dominguez thanked President Asakawa and the ADB Board, Management and Staff “for working tirelessly and responding swiftly to the needs of developing member-economies struggling with containing the spread of the virus.”
In the Philippines, Secretary Dominguez said the Duterte administration is taking aggressive steps to ensure the safety of its people and mitigate the health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the immediacy of addressing the health impacts of COVID-19 is upon us, the bigger challenge facing governments and leaders now is how we can collectively address the inevitable economic fallout that will result from this pandemic,” Secretary Dominguez said.