Malaysia, ADB pledge US$150mil each to Asean Infrastructure Fund


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has pledged US$150 million for the Asean Infrastructure Fund (AIF), in a move to boost connectivity within the 10-member countries, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today.

The Asian Development Bank on its part also pledged US$150mil for the fund, which will provide support in terms of financing major infrastructure development projects in the Asean region.

Another US$500mil will be contributed by the respective Asean member countries, Muhyiddin told a press conference after attending the Invest Asia 2010 conference here today.

He said the board was also currently looking at the projects that would be able to utilise the fund.

The fund is necessary for the grouping to bolster the development of major infrastructure works within the Asean region in its bid to achieve greater integration by 2015, Muhyiddin said.

He said the ADB's pledge was expressed by its President, Haruhiko Kuroda, during their 30-minute meeting earlier today. ADB will also play the role of technical advisor to the fund.

Muhyiddin said his discussion with the ADB chief also touched on the current cooperation between Malaysia and ADB, Malaysia's Government Transformation Programme (GTP), Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs). "The ADB is very much committed not only to the fund but also into financing initiatives by private companies and embarking on two major areas finance and infrastructure. "ADB also responded positively towards NKEA and say this could be an avenue for them to come in and help support," he said, adding that the bank had also given "recognition" to what Malaysia has been doing so far.

Muhyiddin said Kuroda was impressed with the development of Malaysian economy and supported the government's initiative towards a high income economy by 2020.

ADB in July projected a 6.8% growth for Malaysia this year, slightly higher than the government's target of 6%.

In a statement here today, the bank said Southeast Asia's bigger economies Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, have rebounded from last year's weakness at a much stronger pace than was foreseen in April. "The growth was sparked by a sharp upturn in exports, which fueled recoveries in consumption and private investment. Aggregate growth for the 10 sub-regional economies this year is now forecast at 7.4%," it said.

Meanwhile, on Malaysia's plans to reduce the budget deficit to three per cent by 2015, Muhyiddin said action has been taken to achieve that by streamlining and downsizing all ministries' budget annually and rationalising some of the government subsidies.

It is underway and no ministries would be spared, he said.

He, however, added that it would take several years before the government achieves the target figure. Malaysia expects to achieve a fiscal deficit of 5.3% this year.- BERNAMA

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