Multilaterals urged to speed up to stay relevant in crowded world

In a series of interviews with GlobalMarkets, multilateral development chiefs set out their vision to become faster institutions that work with the private sector to deliver development finance more effectively

  • By Elliot Wilson, GlobalMarkets, Katie Llanos-Small
  • 14 Oct 2017
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By Jackie Horne, Elliot Wilson and Katie Llanos-Small


Nakao
Nakao: attention to ESG impacts
Multinational development banks are undergoing a seismic shift in a desperate attempt to remain relevant, senior figures in the development community have told GlobalMarkets.
They outlined plans to meet the challenges of development finance, shifting from pure lending outfits to complex institutions offering everything from insurance to risk-sharing to conflict resolution advice. 
Multilateral chiefs admitted a key challenge was to offer better advice — and faster. “We need to speed up,” Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank, told GlobalMarkets. “We’re also sometimes too much of a bureaucratic monster and the private sector gets impatient with us.” 
Asian Development Bank president Takehiko Nakao admitted that multilaterals were “often criticised about being slow” — but also pointed to the importance of “maintaining special attention to a project’s environment and social impact as well as procurement procedures”.
Suma Chakrabarti, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, argued that development policies needed to be less about growth and sustainability, and more about understanding and covering of risks to encourage private sector involvement.

Stretched balance sheets

Boamah Charles, senior vice president of the African Development Bank, said there had to be a greater focus on creating asset classes that the private sector actually wants to invest in — and providing risk transfer solutions. He said this would help stretch balance sheets further, using the analogy of elasticated trousers, which only stretch so far before the wearer needs a new pair. 
Multilaterals face challenges wherever they look, from commercial banks willing directly to fund projects, to China’s policy lenders dishing out billions of dollars to finance railways and highways, without any governance strings attached. 
Then there is the danger of an institution becoming obsolescent. In an interview with GlobalMarkets, Philippines finance minister Carlos Dominguez said there was a danger of the ADB, which turned 50 last year, becoming set in its ways.
“I told Nakao that if you persist in your bad habits, you’ll become irrelevant,” he said. “For instance, they have no skills in post-conflict administration like the situation we see in Myanmar.”  
Nakao said that the Manila-based multilateral was staying relevant by adding more advisory and risk mitigation functions as well as mobilising private sector resources. “We set up a public private partnership office (PPP) two years ago and have already advised on several projects without using our money,” he said. 
The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) echoed that message. Chief executive James Scriven told GlobalMarkets:  “Traditionally a client would tell us their development challenges and we’d deploy long-term US dollar loans, a bit like going to a doctor and being prescribed an aspirin,” he said. 


  • By Elliot Wilson, GlobalMarkets, Katie Llanos-Small
  • 14 Oct 2017

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