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WB Pledges Support, Denies Funding Plan for Asia

The World Bank said on Thursday it will support the countries in Asia to deal with the global financial turmoil, but denied the plan to offer US$10 billion for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"We stand ready to support all of our member countries across East Asia to deal with the challenges arising from the financial crisis," the World Bank's East Asia and Pacific regional vice president Jim Adams said in a statement.

"The World Bank is also supporting the initiatives of ASEAN members to share information and develop a coordinated response in close cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat," he added.

However, Adams denied that the bank will offer 10 billion dollar, as Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had said, to a "standby facility" that will aid ASEAN members amid the global financial crisis.

President Arroyo said the World Bank made the pledge after the international financial institution, along with the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), agreed to establish a standby facility for ASEAN countries with severe liquidity problems.

"They reached an understanding to establish a standby facility to assist ASEAN countries who have severe liquidity problems," said the President, adding that the Philippines is not one of them yet.

The facility can also be used to purchase what "toxic assets" and recapitalized troubled financial institutions and private companies, she added.

In Thursday's statement, Adams said that the World Bank does not anticipate the establishment of a regional facility and has not discussed commitments of funds at the regional level.

But he said that numerous discussions with individual governments were held on the impacts of the financial crisis and possible ways the bank "might be able to provide support at the country level."

"East Asian economies continue to perform strongly and have made significant changes since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, making them more resilient to the impacts of the current global turbulence. Like all countries, Asian economies must be prepared to deal with any effects of the turmoil," he added.

The World Bank is committed to helping governments and the private sector manage the impacts of the global financial crisis by providing increased lending, equity investments, innovative new tools, and safety net programs, according to the statement.

(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2008)

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