ADB meeting of top finance men seen as Philippines’ ‘coming-out’ party

28-Apr-2012 Intellasia | Inquirer.net | 7:17 AM Print This Post

About 4,300 finance officials from 67 different countries will converge on Manila in early May for the 45th annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Philippine government officials said the event, to be held from May 2 to 5 at the Philippine International Convention centre (PICC), would be an exciting opportunity to showcase positive developments in the country, particularly economic growth and good government.

The officials said they were confident that the event would improve the Philippines’ image in the world community.

“The [publicity] that the Philippines will get from its hosting of the event is priceless,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a round-table discussion with Philippine Daily Inquirer editors and reporters on Wednesday night.

Workers push a bicycle cart filled with food products along a main street of Divisoria in Manila March 8, 2012. (Reuters)

To create a buzz

“I am confident that [the delegates] will create a buzz about the Philippines after attending the event,” Purisima said.

He described the event as a “coming-out opportunity” for the Aquino administration to showcase the fruits of [its campaign for] good government.

“The event is an opportunity for participants to share best practices,” Purisima said. “In the case of the Philippines, the event will be an opportunity for the Aquino administration to showcase the dividends of good governance and its role in building an economy.”

The country’s finance chief said prudent policies of the Aquino administration, which is less than two years old, had already led to significant economic benefits.

For instance, the government’s policies related to debt management, revenue collection and public spending, he said, had earned the favour of portfolio investors, as manifested by the decline in interest rates on bonds sold by the government here and abroad. Reduced interest rates led to $1 billion in savings for the government in 2011 alone, he said.

Annual meetings of the ADB are a venue for policymakers and private-sector leaders in various Asian countries to discuss issues that affect the economic and social well-being of Asians. Policy recommendations to improve socioeconomic status of member-countries are raised during the meetings.

High-profile delegates to the event, besides official delegations from the ADB’s 67 member-countries, include heads of central banks, finance ministers, presidents and chief executive officers of international banks, officials of credit-rating agencies, representatives from the G20, and officials from development banks in Latin America.

Representatives from various foreign news organisations are also expected to attend the event.

The event is also the 15th time that the Philippines, where the ADB has its headquarters, is hosting the governors’ meeting since the bank was established in 1966.

VIP meetings

ADB Secretary Robert LT Dawson, who was also at the Inquirer round table, said other high-profile gatherings would be held at the PICC at the same time as the board meeting.

The other meetings include those of senior officials of the G20, finance ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their East Asian dialogue partners China, Japan and South Korea, and representatives from the Coral Triangle countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.

Dawson said the participants would include representatives from Inter-American Development Bank (ADB’s counterpart in Latin America), international credit-rating agencies Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Service as well as various developmental agencies and international banks.

Home-stay experience

“There are many, many meetings [that will be held], but we want this to be a personal experience for those who will come,” Dawson said.

Dawson said the ADB had arranged a home-stay experience for delegates, in which they and their spouses (for those who are married) would spend a night in a host family’s home.

“We are also implementing, for the first time, our green meeting [initiative],” Dawson added. “We will use as little paper as possible.”

Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said the ADB event would help the country earn substantial “economic dividends.”

He said that from the delegates’ board and lodging expenses alone, the Philippines could already generate P160 million in revenues.

“Revenues will also be generated from the expenses of the delegates for shopping, transportation, food, etc.,” Guinigundo said.

Guinigundo said the Philippines would also showcase its early achievements in poverty reduction.

While the Philippines is still confronted with a serious poverty problem, he said, the government, through the BSP, had already instituted internationally acclaimed measures on reducing poverty.

Microfinance leader

One is the programme helping microenterprises access bank loans. The BSP has been taking the lead in the creation of “credit surety funds” (CSF), pools of money contributed by local governments, state-owned banks and cooperatives that are meant to provide guarantees to bank loans being secured by microenterprises, he said.

The CSF programme deals with the problem of inaccessibility of bank loans for low-income entrepreneurs. The programme, Guinigundo said, is one of the reasons the Philippines is known as one of the leaders in the promotion of microfinance.

“We are proud of our achievements in the area of microfinance, and we can share these with our foreign friends,” Guinigundo said.

Cultural, social programmes

Finance Undersecretary Rosalinda de Leon said cultural and social programmes had been prepared for the delegates.

She said several Filipino households were tapped to host dinners for selected delegates and their spouses to experience Filipino hospitality.

Cultural shows will also be presented in between some formal meetings to entertain the guests. An entertainment programme has also been prepared for the spouses of the delegates, she said.

De Leon said the PICC, owned by the BSP, had been refurbished and decorated for the event.

“We want to make them feel that it’s more fun holding ADB meetings in the Philippines,” Purisima said.

On logistics and security, Purisima said the Philippine National Police had been tapped to provide security service within the vicinity of the PICC, and traffic officers had been given assignments to ensure smooth transportation of delegates from their hotels to the event’s venue.

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