Civil society organizations (CSOs) attended today’s opening of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to call for a review of two of its biggest projects in the Philippines whose impact is being questioned.
IBON together with fellow members from aid networks Reality of Aid and AidWatch Philippines asked the ADB to make a thorough assessment of the impact of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. Both projects were promoted, designed and funded by the ADB.
According to IBON, the EPIRA, which the ADB financed and also required as a policy conditionality to the government, has made power rates in the Philippines the most expensive in Asia. The EPIRA has also bred serious energy insecurity, resulting in dire cases such as the rotating brownouts in Mindanao.
Similarly, the group said that the ADB should look into the impact of the CCT program, which has a US$400 million-loan from the ADB. The program, criticized as mainly a dole-out, was approved and funded despite lack of comprehensive studies on poverty alleviation.
IBON added that while it welcomes efforts of the ADB to improve its Accountability Mechanism Policy, it should also create a mechanism to review the impact of the policy reforms that the ADB supports, such as the power sector privatization and so-called social protection.
Moreover, the ADB should have a democratic system that allows independent assessment and recommendations to be considered in its decision making-- such as in whether new loans for ongoing projects will be approved or not or if current funding should be suspended because of its negative impact.
According to IBON , the least that the ADB can do right now is to provide a credible, democratic system that will allow CSOs to engage and challenge the ADB on the impact of its projects and policy reforms. (end)