CSO’s slam ADB on 53 years of Development Agenda Fallacy



The Asian Development Bank (ADB) celebrates its 53rd year of operation this week and CSOs around the world are in a state of anger because of the forced exclusion by the Bank on the occasion of its virtual annual meeting. 

According to Rayyan Hassan, Executive Director of NGO Forum on ADB, “The ADB has thrown away over a decade of the inclusive practice of open dialogue with civil society in its annual meetings”. He also added that “corporate and State greed are the voices the ADB wants to hear in this 2020 annual meeting, it is not the voice of the people from the Asia Pacific, it is not the voice of the communities which the Bank promised to help and alleviate from poverty”.

CSOs around the world are also calling out the ADB to use its absolute leverage in ensuring that the funds they have loaned are not fed to authoritarian regimes who are silencing environmental and human rights defenders in the name of quarantine. Carmina Obanil from the Coalition for Human Rights in Development explained that “ADB should prioritize human rights and listening to the communities impacted by its investments in its Covid-19 response and beyond, too often, we hear from communities and human rights defenders that they are not meaningfully consulted and that ADB-supported activities exacerbate human rights abuses”.  She also added that the Bank should use its annual meeting, and other high-level events like the Finance in Common Summit to announce a fundamental shift to community-led development”.

Lower-middle-income countries are in escalating debt and rampant corruption in the name of COVID19 recovery.  “While many would believe that the ADB COVID-19 loans would provide relief for the public health system in the Philippines battered by the pandemic, it is wrong,” says Ian Rivera of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), he added that “ADB’s profiteering from the destructive privatization policies and public-private partnership in health services has pushed to render ineffectual the Philippines’ public health care system”.

Lidy Nacpil of the regional organization Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) strongly stated that “ADB’s concessional loans for COVID-19 will increase debt burdens, we reject loans as a means of enabling countries to deal with the multiple related crises of the pandemic,  failing economies, and the climate emergency”.

The same sentiment is being echoed by Hasan Mehedi of CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network), a group based in Khulna, Bangladesh, “The ADB has invested some 614.38 million US dollars in the COVID Recovery programs of Bangladesh, a major part of the finance has gone to the private sector, not to the affected communities directly.  Serious cases of corruption have already been revealed despite ADB saying that it is committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of the project”.

“Retroactive and unconditional funding for COVID-19 by ADB throws to wind all the safeguards people gained over decades of struggles, this is opening up a new and dangerous era of institutions and clients being transparently opaque,” says Sreedhar Ramamurthi of Environics Trust.

The group stated that unemployment, debt, poverty, and joblessness is in unprecedented scales in Asia, people working with honor and dignity are now begging in the streets of Delhi, Manila, Dhaka, and Karachi.  53 years of Bank operations and it only takes one pandemic to expose the fallacy of ADB’s development agenda. 

For information or queries please get in touch with Jen Derillo – 09175088841 or at jen@forum-adb.org.
*** The NGO Forum on ADB is a network of civil society organizations (CSOs) that has been monitoring the projects, programs, and policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

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