GMS ministers look into investments

Economy December 12, 2012 00:00

By The Nation

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Ministers from the Greater Mekong Subregion are reviewing progress on the Regional Investment Framework (RIF) to boost implementation of the GMS Strategic Framework 2012-22, as they meet for the 18th GMS Ministerial Conference in Nanning, China.

The RIF, which was endorsed at the fourth GMS Summit last December, helps formulate a comprehensive pipeline of investment and non-lending projects based on sector assessments and country needs, according to a GMS news release.

In addition to traditional GMS projects, the RIF proposes multi-sectoral second-generation projects. These include urban development along existing transport corridors; better road, rail and sea links; building up national power grids; promotion of regional food-handling guidelines; establishing sustainable tourism projects; boosting environmental planning and management; and shoring up human-resource capacity. These investments are expected to help GMS countries transform transport corridors into economic corridors.

While the RIF will be finalised next year, investment projects worth at least US$9 billion (Bt276 billion) have already been identified. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently approved $37 million in funding for corridor town development in Cambodia, and $41 million for similar projects in Laos.

Meanwhile, headway is being made on institutional issues as well, with progress on the establishment of the Regional Power Coordination Centre and the Greater Mekong Railways Association.

Since 1992, the GMS Programme has invested about $15 billion in projects covering subregional roads, airports and railways, power facilities, tourism infrastructure, and communicable disease prevention, with the ADB’s share totalling more than $5 billion. GMS countries are Thailand, Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia-Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.

In 2011, ADB approvals including co-financing totalled $21.7 billion.

The two-day ministerial meeting in Nanning ends today.