WASHINGTON DC—The leading nominee for the presidency of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has bared to the Philippines his plans to enhance the institution’s capability in ensuring “social inclusion” through better education and healthcare across the region.
Mr. Masatsugu Asakawa, the former Special Advisor to the Japanese Prime Minister and a former Vice Minister of Finance, also informed Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III of his plans to shore up the bank’s expertise in international taxation and develop a universal framework for a global electronic commerce tax system.
Mr. Asakawa bared such plans for the multilateral institution during a meeting here earlier with the Finance Secretary on the sidelines of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund (IMF) 2019 Annual Meetings.
Mr. Asakawa told Secretary Dominguez that social inclusion, which can be achieved by providing better education and health care, is an indispensable element in sustaining a country’s high economic growth and reducing poverty and income inequality.
“Securing high quality jobs of people could be a better instrument than transfer of money. So the so-called ‘social inclusion,’ which means providing more education, securing more healthcare to let them have better jobs is really important. So far ADB has done something but I would like to expand the conversation as well,” Mr. Asakawa said during the meeting.
Secretary Dominguez said the ADB’s priorities in this aspect are in sync with the socio-economic reform agenda of President Duterte, whose administration has provided free tertiary education in the Philippines’ state universities and colleges (SUCs) and will start implementing next year a Universal Health Care (UHC) program that will primarily benefit low-income Filipinos.
Mr. Asakawa commended the Philippine government for putting in place these social-inclusion initiatives, particularly the UHC program, which he described as “really good.”
A former chairman of the Committee on Fiscal Affairs of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Mr. Asakawa also underscored during the meeting the importance of implementing a universal framework to tax multinational companies profiting from the highly lucrative electronic trade of goods in the global marketplace.
Mr. Asakawa informed Secretary Dominguez that his “radical and innovative” proposal involves taxing a multinational company exceeding a certain percentage of its earnings and dividing the tax proceeds proportionately among countries where its goods are traded.
Secretary Dominguez said he looks forward to the ADB sharpening its expertise in the field of taxation with Mr. Asakawa at the helm of the institution.
During the meeting, Secretary Dominguez reiterated the Philippines’ call for closer coordination between the ADB and the World Bank to avoid the duplication of efforts and resources in delivering development assistance to countries in the region.
“We want to continue that effort to make sure that cooperation and coordination between the two institutions are not duplicated,” he said.
Secretary Dominguez also expressed the Philippines’ appreciation of the ADB’s close cooperation with the country under the leadership of outgoing President Takehiko Nakao, and said he looks forward to an even more productive relationship with the institution under Mr. Asakawa.
He also told Mr. Asakawa that the Philippines’ bilateral relationship with Japan today “is the best it has even been.”
“I am very happy with our relationship with ADB now and we are very happy that you are the leader there now so we can move forward,” Secretary Dominguez told Mr. Asakawa.
Secretary Dominguez, on behalf of the Philippine government, was among the first to express support for the nomination of Mr. Asakawa as the next president of ADB, following President Nakao’s announcement of his plan to leave the institution’s premier post effective January 16, 2020.