The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) multitranche financing facility (MFF) has helped member countries in addressing critical development financing gaps and played a major role in scaling up ADB’s investments in several countries, says a report released by ADB’s Independent Evaluation Department (IED). MFF is a financing modality that supports a medium- to long-term investment program of a developing member country through a series of tranches provided over time up to the maximum amount and period approved by ADB’s Board.
The report, ADB’s Multitranche Financing Facility, 2005–2018: Performance and Results Delivered, assesses the relevance, efficiency, and results of the use of MFF by ADB over 2005 to 2018. During this period, ADB approved 105 MFFs totaling $52.3 billion to 16 countries, which was equivalent to nearly one-third of its total sovereign financing. Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Viet Nam accounted for nearly two-thirds of the approved MFF financing, with South Asia, and Central and West Asia receiving 80% of the approvals and the financing envelope.
ADB introduced the MFF modality in 2005 to be more responsive and efficient, and to deliver results on the ground. MFFs provide governments with a secured investment flow over the facility period (up to 10 years) to finance multiple projects in tranches to address large infrastructure needs of the country with amounts often exceeding $500 million. Long periods and large amounts are also meant to incentivize the borrower to implement a sector strategy more systematically and to improve its institutional capacity.
The evaluation found that MFFs have been well aligned with country and ADB strategic priorities where large funding is required, supporting sector programs and national strategies and medium-term plans, where present. The facility also supported ADB’s key development agenda on promoting inclusive and sustainable growth to achieve poverty reduction through addressing infrastructure gaps. According to the report, MFFs have been well received by several stakeholders. The 2019–2022 operations pipeline includes 22 new MFFs for $14.3 billion in 16 countries, including seven newcomers to the modality.
“The larger size and longer term of MFF compared to stand-alone projects mattered as they allowed governments to pursue investment on a scale not previously possible,” said ADB Director General of Independent Evaluation Department Mr. Marvin Taylor-Dormond. “MFF operations provided viable investments to ADB member countries. If their potential is fully capitalized, they will be a powerful instrument for ADB to serve its client countries and promote transformational development in the region.”
The report states that the MFF modality also performed better than stand-alone projects in raising cofinacing from other sources, and in shortening project processing time. “Cofinancing raised by MFF operations was 27.5% of the ADB approved amount, almost twice the average raised by stand-alone projects,” said ADB’s IED Director Mr. Walter Kolkma. “Processing time for projects under an MFF are also substantially shorter than the time taken by multiple stand-alone projects.”
The evaluation notes that the modality did not always achieve the desired transformational changes at the sector level. It was mainly because components on capacity and institutional development often received less attention in the effort to complete the generally large and complex program of civil works. Also, some MFFs were found not addressing cross-sectoral issues in a more comprehensive way.
The report also notes that some of the MFF’s initial comparative advantages had eroded as the business environment changed. Over the years, in response to evolving conditions in the region, ADB has substantially lowered the commitment fee rates of all its loans, increased its lending capacity significantly, and gradually offered a wider choice of financing instruments. In addition, rules and procedures guiding MFF have been tightened in recent years, making this instrument less flexible.
The evaluation recommends ADB to review the use of the MFF modality and update the policy as necessary to align with its Strategy 2030 to deliver integrated solutions and realize its transformational development potential. It also recommends that ADB introduce measures to ensure that operations under the MFF program are completed during its specified time limit; that learning from prior tranches is captured and applied in subsequent tranches; and that transaction costs of MFF operations are reduced.
Post-COVID-19, regaining citizen’s trust should be a priority for governments
The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated governments’ ability to respond to a major global crisis with extraordinary flexibility, innovation and determination. However, emerging evidence suggests that much more could have been done in advance to bolster resilience and many actions may have undermined trust and transparency between governments and their citizens, according to a new OECD report.
Government at a Glance 2021 says that one of the biggest lessons of the pandemic is that governments will need to respond to future crises at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency. “Looking forward, we must focus simultaneously on promoting the economic recovery and avoiding democratic decline” said OECD Director of Public Governance Elsa Pilichowski. “Reinforcing democracy should be one of our highest priorities.”
Countries have introduced thousands of emergency regulations, often on a fast track. Some alleviation of standards is inevitable in an emergency, but must be limited in scope and time to avoid damaging citizen perceptions of the competence, openness, transparency, and fairness of government.
Governments should step up their efforts in three areas to boost trust and transparency and reinforce democracy:
Tackling misinformation is key. Even with a boost in trust in government sparked by the pandemic in 2020, on average only 51% of people in OECD countries for which data is available trusted their government. There is a risk that some people and groups may be dissociating themselves from traditional democratic processes.
It is crucial to enhance representation and participation in a fair and transparent manner. Governments must seek to promote inclusion and diversity, support the representation of young people, women and other under-represented groups in public life and policy consultation. Fine-tuning consultation and engagement practices could improve transparency and trust in public institutions, says the report. Governments must also level the playing field in lobbying. Less than half of countries have transparency requirements covering most of the actors that regularly engage in lobbying.
Strengthening governance must be prioritised to tackle global challenges while harnessing the potential of new technologies. In 2018, only half of OECD countries had a specific government institution tasked with identifying novel, unforeseen or complex crises. To be fit for the future, and secure the foundations of democracy, governments must be ready to act at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency.
Governments must also learn to spend better, according to Government at a Glance 2021. OECD countries are providing large amounts of support to citizens and businesses during this crisis: measures ongoing or announced as of March 2021 represented, roughly, 16.4% of GDP in additional spending or foregone revenues, and up to 10.5% of GDP via other means. Governments will need to review public spending to increase efficiency, ensure that spending priorities match people’s needs, and improve the quality of public services.
Sweden: Invest in skills and the digital economy to bolster the recovery from COVID-19
Sweden’s economy is on the road to recovery from the shock of the COVID-19 crisis, yet risks remain. Moving ahead with a labour reform to facilitate adaptation in a fast-changing economic environment, and investing in digital skills and infrastructure, will be crucial to revive employment and build a sustainable recovery, according to the latest OECD Economic Survey of Sweden.
The pandemic triggered a severe recession in Sweden, despite mild distancing measures and swift government action to protect people and businesses. GDP fell by less than in many other European economies in 2020, thanks to reinforced short-time work, compensation to firms for lost revenue and measures to prop up the financial system, but unemployment still rose sharply. Solid public finances provided room for further stimulus in 2021 to buttress the recovery.
The Survey recommends maintaining targeted support to people and firms until the pandemic subsides, then focusing on strengthening vocational training and skills and increasing investment in areas like high-speed internet and low-carbon transport. Addressing regional inequality, which is low but rising, should also be a priority as the recovery takes hold.
The Survey shows that Sweden has been among the most resilient OECD countries in the face of a historic shock. Yet, like other economies, it faces challenges from demographic changes and the shift to green, digital economies. Investments in education and training, and labour reforms along the lines negotiated by the social partners, will support job creation and strengthen economic resilience. Building on Sweden’s leadership in digital innovation and diffusion will also be key for driving productivity.
After a 3% contraction in 2020, interrupting several years of growth, the Survey projects a rebound in activity with 3.9% growth in 2021 and 3.4% in 2022 as industrial production resumes and exports recover. The recovery in world trade is bolstering the Swedish economy, however the country remains vulnerable to potential disruptions in global value chains.
|The pandemic has aggravated a mismatch in Sweden’s job market, with unfilled vacancies for highly qualified workers coinciding with high unemployment for low-skilled workers and immigrants. The public employment service needs strengthening to provide better support to jobseekers, including immigrants and women, and labour policies should strike the right balance between supporting businesses and workers and supporting transitions away from declining businesses towards growing sectors.|
A rising share of youths and older people in the population, especially in remote areas, is affecting the finances of local governments, which provide the bulk of welfare services. Strengthening local government budgets and ensuring equal welfare provision across the country will require providing tax income to poorer regions more efficiently and raising the economic growth potential across regions through investments in innovation. Improving coordination between government entities and reinforcing the role of universities in local economic networks would help achieve that aim.
Fewer women than men will regain work during COVID-19 recovery
Fewer women will regain jobs lost to the COVID-19 pandemic during the recovery period, than men, according to a new study released on Monday by the UN’s labour agency.
In Building Forward Fairer: Women’s rights to work and at work at the core of the COVID-19 recovery, the International Labour Organization (ILO) highlights that between 2019 and 2020, women’s employment declined by 4.2 per cent globally, representing 54 million jobs, while men suffered a three per cent decline, or 60 million jobs.
This means that there will be 13 million fewer women in employment this year compared to 2019, but the number of men in work will likely recover to levels seen two years ago.
This means that only 43 per cent of the world’s working-age women will be employed in 2021, compared to 69 per cent of their male counterparts.
The ILO paper suggests that women have seen disproportionate job and income losses because they are over-represented in the sectors hit hardest by lockdowns, such as accommodation, food services and manufacturing.
Not all regions have been affected in the same way. For example, the study revealed that women’s employment was hit hardest in the Americas, falling by more than nine per cent.
This was followed by the Arab States at just over four per cent, then Asia-Pacific at 3.8 per cent, Europe at 2.5 per cent and Central Asia at 1.9 per cent.
In Africa, men’s employment dropped by just 0.1 per cent between 2019 and 2020, while women’s employment decreased by 1.9 per cent.
Throughout the pandemic, women faired considerably better in countries that took measures to prevent them from losing their jobs and allowed them to get back into the workforce as early as possible.
In Chile and Colombia, for example, wage subsidies were applied to new hires, with higher subsidy rates for women.
And Colombia and Senegal were among those nations which created or strengthened support for women entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, in Mexico and Kenya quotas were established to guarantee that women benefited from public employment programmes.
To address these imbalances, gender-responsive strategies must be at the core of recovery efforts, says the agency.
It is essential to invest in the care economy because the health, social work and education sectors are important job generators, especially for women, according to ILO.
Moreover, care leave policies and flexible working arrangements can also encourage a more even division of work at home between women and men.
The current gender gap can also be tackled by working towards universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection.
Promoting equal pay for work of equal value is also a potentially decisive and important step.
Domestic violence and work-related gender-based violence and harassment has worsened during the pandemic – further undermining women’s ability to be in the workforce – and the report highlights the need to eliminate the scourge immediately.
Promoting women’s participation in decision-making bodies, and more effective social dialogue, would also make a major difference, said ILO.
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