Asia must boost infrastructure investment: ADB boss

Chandi Dharmaratne

JAKARTA, Sept 22, 2006 (AFP) – Asia must dramatically boost investment in infrastructure in the next decade or risk losing its global competitive edge, the president of the Asian Development Bank warned Friday.

According to a copy of a draft speech, Haruhiko Kuroda told an emerging markets forum in Jakarta that Asia would need to invest three trillion dollars over the next 10 years to keep up with increasing demand for infrastructure.

But at current rates of investment, less than half this amount will be met, Kuroda said, adding that tapping into available financial resources would require far-reaching reforms, including in governance and risk management.

“With Asia’s urban centers set to swell by nearly half a billion people in the next 20 years, there is simply no time to lose,” he said.

Infrastructure gaps have left more than half a billion Asians with no access to safe water, and three times as many without proper sewage or waste disposal.

This shortfall has not yet affected the region’s overall export and economic performance, he said.

“But the danger signs are there. Inadequate transport and communication infrastructure, uncompetitive transport, logistics and industries, and high f