Vani Doraisamy

Chennai: The Asian Development Bank has expressed satisfaction with India’s tsunami recovery programme, especially the turnaround effected in Tamil Nadu.

“All our projects are being satisfactorily implemented, particularly reconstruction of affected harbours and ports and livelihood assistance schemes in Nagapattinam. Tamil Nadu has met all our expectations. We are now keen to help the State increase its rural infrastructure to create more jobs and help rural economies integrate into national development,” Haruhiko Kuroda, ADB president, told The Hindu.

The bank has also started a consultative process with State officials to determine the extent of investments needed. Areas which the bank would like to support include agriculture, agribusinesses, flood control, transport and energy.

“It is essential to nurture inclusive and equitable growth of the rural populations,” Mr Kuroda who reviewed ADB projects in Tamil Nadu as part of a five-day visit to India, said.

In India, Mr. Kuroda will initiate consultations with authorities on future partnerships and strategies under the bank’s Country Partnership Strategy for 2008-2012. This will be aligned to the Eleventh Five Year Plan to help inclusive growth.

The ADB was expecting India’s economy to expand by 8.5 per cent in 2007 and 2008, up from an earlier forecast of 8 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively. Inclusive infrastructure development held the key, especially in areas such as agriculture, irrigation, rural roads, rural finance, education, flood control and tourism-related activities.

“Careful programming”

According to Mr. Kuroda, “Careful programming is needed for the huge investments envisaged in infrastructure development. Also, private sector resources need to be mobilised. Though India’s strength lies in IT and IT-enabled services, that alone cannot guarantee employment. The manufacturing sector too needs to be strengthened.”

As one of the pioneers of the Chiang Mai initiative of 1997-98–under which Asian economies resorted to a currency swap network to avert a financial crisis–Mr. Kuroda does not see another currency crisis hitting Asia, but a financial safety net is still needed.

“Already, East Asian economies are shifting the focus to more structural developments. Ten years after the crisis, they are now stronger and have built huge forex reserves.”