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Jaitley Wants More ADB Role In Building Smart Cities

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has sought "deeper engagement" of the ADB for developing smart cities, industrial corridors and railways in India.
 
"India is expected to grow at 7.5-8 per cent in both 2015 and 2016. This only reaffirms India's fascinating growth prospects. In a time span of less than a year, our government has taken a number of steps to revive the economy," the minister said.
 
"Our goal is to place the Indian economy on a high and sustained growth trajectory through focus on infrastructure development, skills development, improving ease of doing business and economic reforms including comprehensive social safety net and fiscal discipline," he said.
 
Jaitley was speaking on Monday at the first business session of the 48th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at Baku in Azerbaijan.
 
The ADB should aim at an annual business of $20 billion by 2020, he said, adding, "Twenty by Twenty should be (ADB's) corporate goal ... ADB not only needs to become bigger, it also needs to become better, as a model among the MDBs (multilateral development banks)".
 
Observing that India is the ADB's largest client, Jaitley said the partnership should now move to the next level.
 
"In addition to supporting conventional infrastructure projects, we would like a deeper engagement on development of Smart Cities, Industrial Corridors, Rail transport and manufacturing and job creation through flagship initiatives of 'Make in India' and 'Skill India'," the minister said.
 
The ADB is facing a challenge to its dominance from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
 
The ADB said that it was ready to work with the China-led AIIB so long as standards were met, while also announcing changes to boost its own lending capacity by billions of dollars.
 
China has said 57 countries have signed up to become founding members of the AIIB, but so far the United States has chosen to remain outside the bank, seen as a rival to the US-dominated World Bank.
 
Giving reasons for not joining, the United States has cited what it called a lack of transparency and concerns over Beijing's influence.
 
Japan, which has a lead role in the ADB, has also cited a lack of transparency at the Beijing-based AIIB for not joining by a March 31 deadline, but has said that it would be desirable for the ADB to work with the AIIB.
 
Addressing a media conference at the start of the multilateral lender's annual meeting of its board of governors in Azerbaijan on Saturday, ADB President Takehiko Nakao said the bank wanted to cooperate with AIIB.
 
"ADB is happy to cooperate, including co-financing, with the AIIB," Nakao said in Baku. "With the AIIB, if we co-finance, we will study how we do things, but I don't have any intention to lower our standards."
 
The four-day meeting came amid much discussion of the future of global development architecture as more countries, including most shareholders of the ADB, commit to becoming founding members of the AIIB.
 
(Agencies)