Kathmandu, Mar. 20: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Director-General for South Asia, Kenichi Yokoyama, visited Nepal from March 16 to 19. During his visit, Yokoyama reaffirmed ADB’s strong support to Nepal’s development agenda. He had served as Country Director for Nepal from 2012 to 2017.
“I am very happy to be back in Kathmandu and to meet with senior government officials to discuss ADB operations in the country, our partnerships, and key strategic directions. ADB is committed to supporting Nepal in its green, resilient, and inclusive recovery from the pandemic to achieve high and sustainable economic growth, improve the lives of Nepali people and build resilience to climate change impact,” said Director General Yokoyama.
According to him, the focus now should be on structural reforms and quality investments in infrastructure and human capital to further stimulate private sector investments, including foreign direct investments, while devolving services to the local level. These, he believed, would raise productivity in agriculture, manufacturing, and services— prerequisites to achieving higher economic growth.
During his meeting with Finance Minister Janardan Sharma, Yokoyama applauded the government’s efforts to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and manage its impact on public health, welfare, and the economy, as well as progress in the vaccination programme, with more than 80% of the target population receiving two doses. He sought the continued leadership of the Ministry to accelerate timely, efficient, and quality implementation of the development programs and reforms.
The Director-General also met with Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, Prem Bahadur Ale; Minister of Water Supply, Umakanta Chaudhari; Minister of Urban Development, Ram Kumari Jhankri; Minister of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation, Pampha Bhusal; and Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Renu Kumari Yadav. He also met with secretaries of these ministries and other senior government officials, project staff, and development partners.
He also visited the ADB-supported Kathmandu Valley Wastewater Management Project site. The 137 million dollar project is helping to modernize and expand the wastewater treatment facilities and systems in the Kathmandu Valley.
ADB’s lending to Nepal increased from an annual average of around 300 million dollar during 2015–2017 to about $600 million during 2018–2020. "ADB is aiming to maintain support, at 500–600 million dollar in concessional resources per year in the next the years, helping the government with its vision of a sustainable and more inclusive growth," he assured.
A concessional loan of 250 million dollar was provided by ADB to the government in May 2020 for its COVID-19 pandemic response that focused on providing budgetary resources for containment and prevention, protection of economically vulnerable groups, and providing relief to small businesses.