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India biggest recipient of funds from Asian Development Bank last year

India was the biggest recipient of funds from Asian Development Bank last year and would continue to get sovereign loans in excess of USD 3 billion in 2019 as well, the bank’s President Takehiko Nakao said. The multilateral funding institution committed USD 3 billion in sovereign loans to India in 2018, the highest level of assistance since sovereign operations began in the country in 1986.

“We will continue to lend this kind of level (during 2019),” he said at the 52nd annual meeting of the bank here. Also, growing debt-GDP ratio is coming down and provides more space for lending, he added. He said ABD will continue to make investment in rural connectivity, urban development and skill development, among others. India received nearly 25 per cent of the total loans sanctioned last year.

New commitments included USD 21.6 billion in loans, grants and investments from ADB’s own resources, exceeding the target of USD 19.71 billion and up 10 per cent from 2017. The Manila-headquartered bank committed several projects in India, including in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Odisha. On the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China, Nakao said BRI is a very natural idea to expand the connection between East Asia, Central Asia, Europe and Africa but the investment should generate good returns.

“There are merits over investment but at the same time we have to be careful…we must find good project with good return, even if the lending is to the government. Each identified project should have sound economic grant with good returns…and also we should pay attention to social and environmental impact,” he said. Otherwise, there could be issues with regard to investment, he said, adding, Chinese authorities should pay more attention to these issues.

India has opposed the idea of BRI. It is the only country among eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to have raised serious objection to this initiative of China. India’s concern is centred on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, which India considers disputed territories.