Invest on Smart Infrastructure

Asian executives on Thursday agreed that more focus on fundamentals and higher investments on infrastructure would ensure further integration in Asia as the region takes on bigger role on world economy.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, who heads the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Governors, cited that “clearly we live in an age of transition” wherein Asia has overtaken the West in terms of power and demographic profile.

“Therefore we in Asia should continue to focus on the fundamentals so that we can adapt to our changing role. In particular, we need to continue to invest in infrastructure,” he said during the main event of the second day of ADB’s 45th Governors Meeting being hosted by the Philippines at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City from May 2-5, 2011.

The Philippines’s Finance chief also raised the need to invest on the people and on institutions for these to also “adapt to these new realities.”

He explained that governments should look at its people as the new engine of growth as the export model no longer works due to the crisis weak economies of US and the Euro zone.

Purisima cited as example the Aquino government’s decision to strengthen good governance to result to good economics and the bid to invest more on the conditional cash transfers (CCT) program “to enable those living in poverty to be productive participants in the economy and in the expected rise of Asia.”

He said the government is now reaping the fruits of its good governance bid in terms of more market confidence, which in turn enabled the government to lower borrowing cost and savings from here were used to augment funds for social and infrastructure investments.

Relatively, Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said Asia must watch out for asset bubbles as it develops its “own growth pole” considering “slow erratic growth” in the export markets of Europe and US.

“Asia is the hub of the greatest urbanization in world history underway. And we need smart infrastructure for water, for electricity, for transportation, for proper balance in quality of life in urban cities. This is core to the sustainability challenge. This is core to the quality of life challenge,” he said.

Chinese Vice Finance Minister Li Yong, for his part, said improvement in local macroeconomic condition and “deepened regional cooperation” are the major keys for a sustainable and inclusive growth in the region.

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