The 41st Annual Governors Meeting (AGM) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
is taking place in Madrid, Spain from May 3 to 6, 2008. One of the main
agenda of this meeting is the ADB's strategy for the next years for what it
describes as a 'New Asia.' The ADB calls it "Strategy 2020" and is
contained in the paper called the "Long Term Strategic Framework (LTSF)."
According to ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda, this new strategy "reshapes,
redirects, repositions ADB for a more innovative and effective development
role in our rapidly changing region and within the international aid
For forty years we have been witness to ADB's support for the private sector
and advocacy of free market policies, and the consequent harmful impacts on
services, livelihoods, food security and the environment.
It has been a major driver of privatization of services in the region, along
with the World Bank. It has been involved in the privatization of water
services in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Nepal and Srilanka. It
financed power privatization-related projects in the Philippines,
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, India and others.
The privatization of these services has led to huge and continuous increases
in rates, much diminished access of poor households and communities to these
services, the monopoly of natural resources by private businesses, massive
dislocations of communities, and environmental damage.
ADB has also actively provided support for private (as well as public)
investments in fossil-fuel projects particularly coal, thus contributing to
harmful and climate change-causing technologies.
In facilitating private investment in public infrastructure programs, it has
supported and promoted public guarantees of private risks, liabilities and
profits in these investments.
ADB's drive for privatization not only contributed to increasing the burden
of public debts, it has led to the further accumulation of illegitimate
debts. Illegitimate debts include ADB loans that financed projects and
policies that have caused grievous harm to communities and the environment
With its Strategy 2020 and LTSF -- the ADB will be much, much more unabashed
and aggressive in its support for the private sector.
Arguing yet again that "economic growth has been the driving force for
reducing poverty in the region, the new strategy calls for a big leap in its
funding for private sector development and private sector operations. From
12% in 2007, by the year 2020 50% of its operations will be for the private
We can only expect that ADB greater support for 'stronger private sector
involvement in development' would mean subjecting Asia to even more
relentless pursuit of unregulated risk-free and publicly- guaranteed profits
by big business.
We say to the ADB – Our future, our rights are not for sale!