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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

||| What is the NGO Forum on ADB?

 

The NGO Forum on ADB is a network of civil society organizations (CSOs) that has been monitoring the projects, programs, and policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).  The Forum has been active since 1992.

The forum has been assisting project, program, and/or policy-specific campaigns led by its members, and has been conducting capacity building workshops.

NGO Forum on ADB NEITHER accepts money from the ADB nor is it in any way part of it.

The Forum Secretariat is based in Quezon City, Philippines.

||| How was the Forum established?

 

The NGO Forum was established in 1991 as the NGO Working Group on the ADB by a coalition of NGOs from the Philippines, Asia, and the Pacific, as well as from Europe and the USA.

 

At that time, activists felt that little attention was given to the ADB, which is an influential international financial institution in Asia and the Pacific, as compared with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Since then, the Forum has expanded its core members in each of the five ADB-defined Asian subregions, namely: Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Mekong subregion and the Pacific, as well as in the Bank’s major donor countries such as Japan and the US. 

||| What are the activities and campaigns that the Forum has initiated in the past?

 

The NGO Forum launched a series of campaigns to make the ADB accountable for the negative impacts of its funded projects. This has resulted in the establishment of the First Inspection Mechanism in 1995 and the New Accountability Mechanism in 2004. It has also supported campaigns on the ADB’s policies on gender, Safeguards, Energy, and disclosure, among others.

 

In addition, Forum has also been involved in local campaigns on ADB-funded projects such as the Highway 1 Project in Cambodia, Samut Prakarn Wastewater Management Project in Thailand, Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project in Pakistan and Southern Transport Development Project in Sri Lanka.

||| How can my organization become a member of the Forum?

 

Your organization can be part of the NGO Forum on ADB by expressing your interest through the networks International Committee Representatives.

Forum on ADB has IC member representatives per region (Central Asia and the Caucasus, Mekong Region, Southeast Asia, and South Asia).  But please remember that this is still subject to the members' approval.

||| Does my organization have to be a member of the NGO Forum to participate in its activities?

 

In general, the NGO Forum only works with its member and partner organizations. Though, there may be exceptions to this rule as the need arises like, for an instance, a non-member organization is seeking assistance for its campaign on a certain policy or project of the ADB.

||| What is ADB?

 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) with the mandate of reducing poverty by increasing growth in Asia and the Pacific. It provides the following services to its member countries: loans, technical assistance, grants, guarantees, and equity investment.

The Bank is owned and financed by its 67 member countries, of which 48 are from the region and the remaining 19 countries are from other parts of the globe.

||| How does the ADB provide money for development?

 

There are three basic mechanisms with which the ADB provides development assistance. The first is in the form of grants. Grants comprise a relatively small amount of the ADB’s expenditures and are often given in the form of technical assistances (TAs) which helps borrowing governments plan a particular project and build its capacity for development.

 

The second mechanism is in the form of concessional loans made through one of the three special funds, the largest of which is the Asian Development Fund (ADF). This is the “soft lending” arm of the ADB — loans that are given at interest rates well below market levels and on terms more flexible than any commercial bank could provide. The ADF is only available for the Bank’s developing member countries DMCs with low per capita incomes and limited debt-repayment capacity.

 

The third is the Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) of the ADB, which functions pretty much like a loan made through a private sector bank, with the borrower repaying at market interest rates in a timely manner. Only countries in some measure of economic hardship are eligible for “soft lending”, while others are only eligible for OCR lending.

||| What is AIIB?

 

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region. The bank currently has 78 members as well as 24 prospective members from around the world. 

How does the AIIB provide money for development?

 

AIIB may provide or facilitate financing to any member, or any agency, instrumentality or political subdivision thereof, or any entity or enterprise operating in the territory of a member, as well as to international or regional agencies or entities concerned with the economic development of Asia.

||| Who keeps the ADB AND AIIB accountable?

 

Since its establishment, the ADB (or any MDB) cannot be subjected to any judicial proceedings or even to the United Nations framework. It enjoys judicial immunity through it as prescribed in its organizational charter, Article 50. As a result, it is very difficult to hold the ADB accountable when it violates national laws or internationally accepted norms and declarations, such as those established through the United Nations.

In response to worldwide concerns and call for the effectiveness of its development aid, the ADB began adopting a set of policies in the 1990s to ensure its compliance with the Inspection Mechanism approved in 1995. This mechanism came under critique in 1999, when the government of Thailand refused to allow inspectors to visit the Samut Prakarn Wastewater Management Project. More importantly, the ADB’s BoD failed to approve the report of the inspection panel, which concluded ADB’s non-compliance with some of its own policies. There was also a growing concern that the Inspection Mechanism focused primarily on the ADB’s compliance (or lack thereof) without directly addressing problems faced by affected people brought by the Bank’s intervention. As a result, the ADB approved the new Accountability Mechanism replacing the previous Inspection Function. It has a problem-solving arm in addition to ensuring its compliance with its own policies.