World Bank Group president David Malpass has welcomed a proposal by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III for multilateral lenders to closely coordinate their development efforts in the Asia-Pacific region, and said a “coordinated country program” with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would be a good starting point in getting this plan done.
In a meeting at the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C., Malpass also encouraged Dominguez to come up with more proposals on how the Bank, in particular, can perform better in helping the Philippines accelerate its sustainable growth.
Malpass, who assumed the World Bank Group presidency on April 9, also took the opportunity to congratulate the Philippines on the reforms it has been implementing, especially its tax reform program, which, he said, “is working well.”
During his meeting with Malpass, Dominguez reiterated his call for the World Bank and ADB to coordinate their work in the region to help reduce overhead costs not only for both institutions but also for countries seeking development assistance, in terms of lowering their operational expenses and borrowing rates.
“As governor of both institutions—World Bank and ADB…, I feel that there is a lot of room for reduction of overheads for both institutions at least in Asia.” Dominguez said. “Why do we have to get two economic reports from ADB and WB? Maybe there’s a way to work together and to reduce overheads. I put myself in the place of a small country, why do I have to deal with two bureaucracies that do virtually the same thing?”
In response, Malpass said that a coordinated country program, which should start with a coordinated economic outlook, is now being worked out to begin doing away with redundancies, such as the economic reports that Dominguez had pointed out.
Dominguez first broached his proposal during the recently concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 23rd Finance Ministers Meeting in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Aside from Dominguez, the finance ministers of Cambodia and Vietnam also called on the ADB and World Bank to work in synergy and complement their efforts in alleviating poverty in the region.
Malpass said he had briefly discussed coordinating development efforts and ways of reducing overhead costs with ADB president Takehiko Nakao during a recent meeting.
The newly elected World Bank Group president noted that coordination, as pointed out by Dominguez, is necessary to avoid one institution absorbing high front-end costs for a particular project and another institution offering a lower financing package and ending up getting the credit.
During the meeting, World bank vice president for East Asia and the Pacific Victoria Kwakwa informed Malpass that the World Bank would reach out to the ADB to find ways of synergizing their efforts in the region.
“As Secretary Dominguez had mentioned, we will bring us (ADB and World Bank) together to discuss further how we can work together,” Kwakwa said.
Malpass suggested that the two institutions create a subgroup that would focus discussions on a specific aspect of development assistance, such as infrastructure, to avoid redundancies and ensure that projects are done efficiently.
During the meeting, Dominguez also took the opportunity to thank the World Bank again for its continued assistance to the Philippines.
“I think our engagement with the World Bank at this time is quite intense and I think more intense than it was in the last administration,” Dominguez said.