Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa has launched a high-level panel of leading experts in economics, finance and health to help ministers, central bank governors and other senior officials identify options for Southeast Asian economies to tap into to quickly bounce back after the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
"We are providing a platform for ministers and well-known experts to discuss the immediate challenges posed by COVID-19 and identify areas worthy of additional analysis for the future," said Asakawa at the first event which was held virtually on Tuesday.
"The second and third waves of the disease are possible -- indeed likely -- and further economic decline will be costly. Countries face a whole host of cross-cutting issues that affect people and businesses. They have already learned useful lessons and can benefit from sharing these with each other."
The event drew senior officials from three of Southeast Asia's largest economies including Indonesian Finance Minister and ADB Governor Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Philippine Finance Secretary and ADB Governor Carlos G Dominguez, and Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob.
They exchanged views with eight international experts in economics, finance, health, social protection, data and sustainable development including former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan.
The panel moderated by ADB Vice-President Ahmed M Saeed discussed lessons learned as countries took immediate measures to address the pandemic's devastating health, social, economic and financial impacts, and their medium- to long-term priorities. They also covered topics such as the need for structural reforms, innovation in domestic resource mobilisation, and how to make recovery sustainable amid global headwinds.
On April 13, ADB announced a 20 billion dollars package to support developing member countries' COVID-19 response. ADB has since approved 7.2 billion dollars in rapid response loans and technical assistance, including nine interventions under the COVID-19 pandemic response option (CPRO) totalling 5.52 billion dollars for India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Georgia, Indonesia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal and the Philippines.
The high-level dialogue is supported by a 5 million dollar technical assistance grant which ADB approved on April 24. The grant will help countries receiving CPRO funding monitor their Covid-19 response and guide them in preparing recovery strategies and action plans.