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ADB to Offer China US$3 Bln in Loans

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has planned average lending of US$1.5 billion per year to China for the next two years to be spread more evenly across different sectors.


According to its updated strategy and program for the country, the ADB will maintain its focus on projects for the poorer central and western provinces.


The proportion of loans to agriculture and natural resources projects will more than double from 10 to 25 percent, and the social infrastructure sector's share will rise from 10 to 23 percent, compared with the lending program for 2004-2006, the bank said in a statement.


It said transportation, a sector that has historically received the bulk of ADB loans, would receive 41 percent, down from 59 percent last year. The remaining 11 percent would go to energy projects.


"The ADB's future operations in the PRC will emphasize rural development, environment, energy conservation, urban development, and regional cooperation, in line with the country's 11th Five-Year Program for 2006-2010," said Toru Shibuichi, ADB country director for China.


"ADB will mobilize resources and develop new instruments to meet the demand for more balanced development among China's regions, and between the country's rural and urban areas."


The bank said China had made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, with the number of rural poor falling from about 250 million in 1978 to about 23.7 million last year. "More targeted and innovative approaches, however, are needed to work on pockets of persistent absolute poverty, the vulnerability of a large population living on the brink of poverty, and new manifestations of urban poverty."


While China was poised to achieve Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for maternal health and primary education, dramatic improvements were needed to meet the targets for gender equity, environmental sustainability, child mortality, HIV/AIDS, and access to safe drinking water and sanitation.


The bank said US$23.6 million in technical assistance grants was planned over the next two years for policy and institutional reforms, legal reforms and governance, training, and project preparation.


As of the end of last year, ADB had approved US$16.24 billion for 115 loans and US$257.1 million for 483 technical assistance grants to China.


"The ADB's portfolio in the PRC continues to be one of the ADB's best, with no projects marked 'at risk' in recent years," said the bank.


(Xinhua News Agency September 21, 2006)

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