Philippines to host ADB meet in May

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 20) — Fresh off the success of the ASEAN Summit last year, the Philippines will this time host the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Annual Meeting in May.

An estimated 3,000 delegates - mostly finance ministers, central bankers and civil society leaders - will gather in Manila on May 3-6.

Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, who will chair the meeting, said delegates would focus on ways the ADB could better help the poor across the region.

Topics on the agenda include financial technology, women entrepreneurship, climate change resilience, and infrastructure investment.

Dominguez said the agenda is aligned with the Duterte administration's push for rapid and inclusive growth.

"Over the past five decades, the ADB poured over $250 billion into the Asia-Pacific region. The programs of the Bank no doubt helped transform this region into one of the most progressive and dynamic regions of the world. Notwithstanding, the Asia-Pacific continues to be home to some of the poorest communities. There is a challenge for inclusiveness here," Dominguez said in a briefing on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, ADB Secretary Woochong Um said it was the perfect time for the Philippines to host the 66 other member countries of the Bank.

The economy is booming - the ADB expects growth to hit 6.8% this year - and momentum should continue with critical programs like tax reform and Build, Build, Build, he explained.

Um said, "I think we have a very good story to tell the visitors. So, more than the tourism and other benefits, I think the world will find out what good things are happening in the country."

Manila has been home to the ADB ever since it was founded in 1966. The Bank is one of the country's largest sources of development funding, lending an average $770 million a year in the last decade. In 2017, ADB loans to the Philippines hit a record $1 billion, with programs on youth employment, capital market reform, infrastructure preparation and road construction in Mindanao.

Unlike the yearlong ASEAN Summit, the ADB Annual Meeting will be a much more "frugal" and "efficient" affair.

Dominguez said the budget was slashed by half to P90 million this year from P200 million when the Philippines last hosted in 2012.

Most events will be held in the ADB Headquarters in Mandaluyong City, he said. Other venues are all within the nearby Ortigas Center as well, minimizing the impact on traffic.

He added it was unlikely the government would need to declare holidays for the duration of the ADB Annual Meeting since most students will already be on  summer break by then.