India attended the 12th informal meeting of finance ministers from the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) group in Manila, Philippines on May 4th. The event was held on the sidelines of the 51st annual summit of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a regional development bank based out of Manila. At the event, India was represented by Subhash Chandra Garg, the Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. Mr Garg also met Takehiko Nakao, the President of ADB, and requested him to support India’s endeavour towards an inclusive and sustainable growth accompanied by rapid economic transformation and job creation. He requested the President of ADB to expand the bank’s sovereign and non-sovereign operations in India by providing annual funding worth US$4 billion. ADB has so far supported several developmental projects in India.

Mr Garg stated that the India has approved ADB’s proposal to garner additional resources through INR bonds in the offshore markets. The Secretary highlighted the need for increased private sector operations by ADB in India. He also attended the Governors’ Roundtable on role of governments in harnessing new technology for inclusive growth, and provided India’s perspective on how to deal with changes being brought about by new technologies and automation in job creation. At the finance ministers’ summit, Mr Garg highlighted the ongoing economic reforms in India. He also stressed upon giving continued support to the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) initiative and its ongoing activities in the SAARC Development Fund. The India delegation also held bilateral meetings with teams from countries such as Hong Kong and Germany to discussed a wide range of bilateral issues.

The Indian Government had signed a US$80 million loan agreement with the ADB in March 2018 to help boost employment and skill development in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. The fund will be invested to modernise technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions and improve the skills ecosystem. In January, the Government had entered into a US$250 million loan deal with the ADB to build 6,254 km of all-weather rural roads in the states of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal under the Prime Minister’s rural roads program, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). The loan’s first tranche is part of the US$500 million Second Rural Connectivity Investment Program for India approved by the ADB in December 2017. The project builds on the US$800 million ADB-financed rural connectivity programme announced in 2012 that added 9,000 km of roads.