Since announcing ADB’s $20 billion support package in April last year, the Asian Development Bank has already committed $17.4 billion out of that package through grants, technical assistance, and loans to governments and businesses and also mobilized $12.8 billion in cofinancing, Masatsugu Asakawa, President, Asian Development Bank, told the ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting (AFMGM+3), aired virtually yesterday.
ADB’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option, or CPRO, provides quick-disbursing budget support for countercyclical economic stimulus in our developing member countries (DMCs). So far we have provided $10.2 billion in CPRO to 26 countries, including $5.0 billion for five ASEAN economies.
“We are also helping our DMCs procure and deliver safe and effective vaccines, swiftly and equitably. Last December, we launched our $9 billion vaccine initiative―the Asia-Pacific Vaccine Access Facility, or APVAX. We recently signed a $425 million loan for the Philippines and $450 million for Indonesia. We also provided grants to Afghanistan and Pacific countries.
Fourteen additional APVAX projects, worth more than $3.8 billion, are in the pipeline. Unfortunately, supply shortages are limiting vaccine availability in the region. ADB recently revised its vaccine eligibility criteria so that vaccines can be procured swiftly from more diverse sources, while also ensuring safety and efficacy aligned with the World Bank and COVAX.”
Asakawa said the ADB was also providing technical assistance to strengthen digital literacy in education projects in Bangladesh, and developing technology-related education programs in Sri Lanka.
The tax-to-GDP ratio averages 14% for ASEAN and 18% for the Plus three economies―lower than the average for developing Asia and OECD, respectively. This suggests ample room for boosting revenues and strengthening tax collection in ASEAN+3 economies, he said.
Digitizing tax systems and international tax cooperation can help mobilize revenue and fight tax avoidance. Multinational investments are growing in ASEAN+3 markets, but an increasingly borderless digital economy is making it easier for firms to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions.
We need to ensure all parties pay their fair share of taxes by closing cross-border tax loopholes through collaboration.
“As a next step, we propose establishing a Steering Committee to bring together key development partners and DMCs that are willing to actively engage in the Tax Hub. We will then organize a first High-Level Conference under the Tax Hub later this year to share the progress and plans on the three building blocks, including details of the operations of the Secretariat and Steering Committee,” he added.