By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MANILA — The Asian Development Bank said Thursday it is tripling its capital to $165 billion to provide the resources needed to respond to the global economic crisis and push its long-term goal of cutting poverty in the region.
The Manila-based bank's board of governors said an overwhelming majority of the ADB's 67 member countries voted to endorse the 200 percent increase to ADB's current $55 billion of capital.
"This substantial increase is a resounding vote of confidence from our shareholders for what we can achieve as a premier development partner in the region," ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said. "We must do all we can to prevent the reversal of hard-won gains for our region in social and economic development, and in poverty reduction."
The decision comes just before the ADB's annual meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on May 2-5.
The capital boost allows the ADB to substantially increase its support to countries affected by the global downturn and to provide an additional $10 billion over the next few years for crisis-related assistance.
ADB estimates the financial crisis will keep more than 60 million people in developing Asia trapped in poverty this year, a figure that is expected to rise to nearly 100 million in 2010.
The additional capital also will help address the region's huge, long-term development needs, including efforts to meet the United Nations' "millennium" goals of reducing poverty, hunger and disease and improving children's health and education
A quarter of the population in ADB developing countries have no access to electricity and less than 20 percent have access to piped water, the bank said.