By Shalmali Guttal

What’s New at the ADB?

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) now asserts that poverty reduction is its overarching institutional goal. It claims that all its other strategic objectives–economic growth, human development, sound environmental management and improving the status of women–will henceforth be pursued in such a way that they directly contribute to poverty reduction.
But the ADB has no clue how to reduce poverty. In adopting the poverty reduction rhetoric, it is merely following the lead of the World Bank and its other multilateral peers who successfully negotiated the transition in their rhetoric a long time ago. A relative “laggard” in the development business, the ADB is the last of the multilateral institutions to declare full and complete dedication to the reduction of poverty. And in so doing, it hopes to divert attention away from emerging evidence and criticism of its abysmal failure as a bank as well as a development institution. It now talks about sustainable human development, gender equality, environmental protection and participation, but it is clearly at a loss as to how these terms can be translated into action.
The ADB’s Poverty Reduction Strategy proposes nothing new in terms of understanding, or tackling poverty. What it does is use poverty rhetoric to dress up the only business it knows: market based economic growth, liberalisation of trade and investment; deregulation, or minimising the role of the State in governing the economy’ and privatisation, with an ever expanding role for the private sector in the production and delivery of goods and services. The strategic goal of these initiatives has not been poverty reduction, but the rapid integration of local and national economic activities into the global market economy. Far from reducing poverty, the ADB’s version of development has contributed greatly towards the impoverishment of people in the Asia and Pacific.
The poverty rhetoric is important to the ADB from the point of view of institutional survival. The ADB needs the discourse of poverty. By committing itself to research and documentation about poverty (“expanding the knowledge base”) it attempts to sets itself up as a poverty expert, and the key producer and disseminator of knowledge about poverty and development in the region. Through such a discourse it can exercise influence about how poverty is perceived and approached, and in the design of anti-poverty programmes. The poverty discourse thus serves the ADB in two critical ways. One, it provides a moral-ethical cloak for it’s poorly conceived and destructive development policies and practices. Second, it ensures that there will always be a steady supply of “poor” to keep it in business.

The ADB defines poverty as a state of deprivation of essential assets and opportunities which arise from a shortage of capital by which these assets and opportunities can either be produced or purchased. Accordingly, poverty reduction calls for the creation of a situation in which the poor are enabled to acquire the assets required to achieve a “minimally acceptable level of existence. But this too is not new. Set into motion more than fifty years ago by the United States, Great Britain, the Bretton Wood Institutions and the United Nations, the “shortage of capital” approach development has so completely dominated anti-poverty programmes that today, the theory has become a morbid reality: the poor are indeed deprived of assets and opportunities; there is a perpetual shortage of capital investment in areas critical to the poor; and worst of all, despite the billions of dollars that have been channeled into so-called poverty reduction programmes, the poor do not appear to be in a better position than before to acquire those assets and opportunities they need to redeem their condition of deprivation.
The picture is indeed dismal. The 1999 UNDP Human Development Report reveals that worldwide, an estimated 1.3 billion people live on incomes of less than $ 1 a day. More than a quarter of the 4.5 billion people in developing countries still do not have what the world considers some of life’s most basic choices such as survival beyond the age of 40, access to knowledge and minimum public services. More than 880 million people lack access to health services, nearly 1.3 billion people do not have access to clean water, and 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation. About 840 million people in the world are malnourished and the richest fifth of the world consume 16 times more than the poorest fifth.
Close to 900 million of the world’s poor (i.e., those who survive on less than US $ 1 a day) live in the Asia and Pacific region, and nearly one in three Asians are poor using this same standard. More than half of world poverty is concentrated in the Asia and Pacific region. And the ADB–along with its mentors, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)–has played a significant role in bringing this situation about. The combined policy demands of these three instititutions have entrenched social, economic and political inequalities, increased absolute poverty for many, weakened the economic sovereignty of countries by increasing dependency on external financing, and led to widespread environmental degradation in the region. The increasing domination of their neo-liberal vision of the world has narrowed opportunities for the emergence of local, national and regional development alternatives.

An Institution for Asia and the Pacific

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was established in 1966 as a regional Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) to finance activities that would foster economic growth, development and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region. Although its primary founding members were Japan and the United States, it now consists of 57 member countries–41 from Asia and the Pacific, and 16 non-regional. The ADB’s top stockholders are Japan, the United States, the Peoples’ Republic of China, India, Australia, Indonesia, Canada and Korea. Interestingly, the majority of the ADB’s members–Developing Member Countries [DMCs] are debtors to the ADB. The ADB is a public sector institution supported by taxpayers in all its member countries, either in the form of direct financing of the institution’s portfolios, or in the form of debt repayment.
Established in the image of the World Bank, the ADB currently enjoys unprecedented economic and political power in Asia. Between 1996 and 1998, the ADB’s commitment to assistance in the region was US $ 20.6 billion, second only to the World Bank at US $ 28.7 billion. Since the start of its operations in 1966, the ADB has poured more than US $ 111 billion into the region, of which at least US $ 82 billion are in direct credits from the Bank itself, and another US $ 30 billion through co-financed capital, primarily in the form of non-concessionary loans. In 1997, the total accumulated external debt in the Asia Pacific region was US $ 805.4 billion. Compared against the total ADB lending and co-financing to date of US $111.9 billion, it can be assumed that more than ten percent of the total external debt of the Asia Pacific is owed to the ADB.
The eight largest debtor countries to the ADB are Indonesia (US $ 16,008 million), Pakistan (US $ 9,471 million), China (US $ 8,166 million), The Philippines (US $ 7,286 million), India (US $ 7,253.3 million), Thailand (US $ 4,984 million), Malaysia (US $ 1,987 million) and Vietnam (US $ 1,655 million). The top eight countries with more than a third of their total external debt owed to the ADB are Bhutan (73 %), Nepal (68 %), Samoa (62 %), Mongolia (52%), Solomons (51 %), Bangladesh (37 %), Malaysia (33 %) and Pakistan (32 %).
The ADB’s activities range from providing loans (concessional and ordinary), facilitating capital investment, and technical assistance to governments and private companies in its developing member countries (DMCs). Its approach to development is based on a fundamental belief in rapid modernisation, market capitalism, and the integration of all economic activity into the global marketplace. While these beliefs are no different from the neo-liberal agendas promoted by other International Financial Institutions (IFIs), the ADB has sought to promote an “Asian” identity for itself by claiming to be rooted in the region, and by claiming to advance regional understanding and cooperation through programmes designed to respond to the particularities of the region.
The ADB has mobilised both public and private capital for financing development activities through co-financing schemes with multilateral, bilateral and private financial institutions. Central to this has been the promotion of public-private “partnerships” between governments and private companies in physical infrastructure projects in which, the ADB has provided loans for government equity and partial risk guarantees to the private investors. Another notable feature of the ADB has been its role in facilitating technical assistance to its DMCs through multilateral and bilateral funds. However, the majority of the ABD’s “assistance” to its DMCs has been in the form of loans and even pre-paid technical assistance is usually contingent upon concurrent loan regimens.

Who’s Interests?

The ADB insists that it has always been concerned with poverty alleviation and that its approach to development encompasses a wide range of social and environmental concerns, including women’s empowerment, civil society participation and environmental protection. However, in the footsteps of its institutional peers–the World Bank and IMF–financing from the ADB, whether in the form of grants or loans, is generally accompanied by conditionalities that undermine the very issues it declares concern for.
ADB conditionalities range from the introduction of new policies and laws to protect specific investments (as in infrastructure projects) to reforms of entire sectors (as in the case of the agriculture sector in Thailand and the energy sector in Indonesia. Some of the more common elements of these conditionalities are: liberalisation of trade and investment; increased control by the private sector over the production and delivery of goods and services; full cost recovery of all investments whether public or private; dismantling of State subsidies for public goods and services; privatisation of State enterprises; transfer of resource use and tenure rights from public and common pool to private ownership; deregulation of pricing and markets; and an overall withdrawal of the State in direct economic activity and governance. Reforms of the financial and legal sectors, and the introduction of new, market-friendly regulatory mechanisms have been particularly important to the ADB’s strategy of increasing foreign and domestic private investment in infrastructure, economic and social development.
Until the early nineties, the ADB was quite successful in avoiding public scrutiny about its policies and operations. Unlike the World Bank or the IMF, the ADB’s sphere of influence is regionally limited. And the Asia-Pacific region is a geographically, economically, culturally and politically diverse region. While intense pockets of poverty exist in its different sub-regions, it is also overall a region of significant wealth accumulated through generations of capital and resource appropriation, and a buildup of domestic savings. Asian countries have pursued distinctly different paths towards modernisation and development which have been financed through a multitude of sources ranging from domestic and foreign private investments to bilateral and multilateral development assistance and credits. Consequently, the influence of MDBs on the various countries in the region have also been varied owing to differences in their respective political and economic capacities.
But as more evidence emerges about the destructive impacts of its projects and interventions, the ADB is facing growing region-wide criticism of its policies and operations, as well as of the manner in which it does business. Despite its claims to the contrary, the ADB is a highly centralised and unaccountable institution, which does not serve broad-based public interest. At an institutional level, the Bank’s key policy and programme decisions are taken by its Governors and Board of Directors, who also determine the direction of its operations and relations with borrowing countries. At the country level, Bank and government negotiations about programmes proceed without broad based, inclusive public input or participation.
Neither the Board of Directors nor ADB staff represent the interests of majority of the region’s people. ADB policies also have little to do with addressing the problems or challenges faced by the poor in borrowing countries. On the contrary, ADB policies reflect a gross and undifferentiated view of a diverse reality, and further the interests of its wealthy Asian and non-Asian stockholders and financial contributors. The ADB pays no penalty for bad decisions on loans or projects. These impacts are disproportionately borne by the very people who the Bank is not responsible to but uses to justify its existence, i.e., the poor.
It fact, it is difficult to understand what the ADB when it refers to “gender and development” and “participation.” The urban or rural poor certainly did not participate in the design of programmes or reforms that have led to the displacement and dispersion of families, environmental degradation, the alienation of entire communities from natural resources and livelihood sources, increased debt, decreased access to clean water, sanitation and basic healthcare, and their attendant increase in the hardships on women

“Thinking Poverty”

By its own admission, the ADB is moving away from its former project oriented role towards becoming a broad based development institution that promotes policy and institutional reform, regional cooperation and private sector development. These policies provide the broad framework for operationalising its poverty reduction strategy which consist of “pro-poor” sustainable economic growth, social development and good governance.
A noteworthy aspect of the ADB’s poverty reduction strategy is its commitment to strengthen its own knowledge, capacity and skills, and ensure that all its departments acquire the requisite expertise in anti-poverty activities.
Just as salesmen are encouraged to think “sales” at all times, the ADB staff shall “think poverty” at all times. New staff and consultants shall be hired and training will be provided for all personnel in poverty reduction methodologies and techniques. Country and region wide studies on poverty will be undertaken, poverty research indicators and data will be developed, handbooks and manuals on poverty interventions will be produced, and conferences and fora on poverty reduction will be organised. New policy tools and lending instruments to finance poverty operations will be developed, and of course, new lending targets will be established.
In other words, by setting itself up as the expert institution on poverty in the region, the ADB will consolidate its power on the discourse of poverty and development in the Asia and Pacific. It will also be better positioned to shield itself from critiques of its projects, lending practices and methods of operation.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy: New Packaging for an Old Product
The poverty reduction strategy reiterates the ADB’s firm belief in markets as the primary source of assets and opportunities that the poor, and in fact all in society need in order to grow towards a better future. According to the ADB, markets must be nurtured and allowed to reach their full potential by the removal of market distorting interventions such as public service and credit subsidies, pricing controls, state owned enterprises, import-export restrictions and overvalued exchange rates. It claims that competitive markets can do better what governments have attempted to do in the past: the production of public goods and services. Liberalising markets and dismantling all forms of control or regulation over market operations (as the assertion goes) would increase efficiency of production and stimulate economic growth, which in turn would provide employment and incomes, and eventually reduce poverty.
Private sector development (PSD) is central to the poverty reduction strategy and will receive renewed support. The ADB claims that given the limited capacity and mixed track record of the public sector, the private sector must become the “engine of growth.” PSD is, of course, not new to the ADB and encompasses a range of activities from support for domestic entrepreneurs to region wide economic cooperation programmes. Many PSD efforts are couched in the language of public-private partnerships, whereby public funds are used to provide sufficient incentives and guarantees and ensure an appropriate “comfort level” for private sector expansion
The ADB advocates expanding the role of the private sector from its present involvement in physical infrastructure projects (such as energy, water, transport and telecommunication) into the domain of public goods and services, economic and social infrastructure, and basic services such as education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation. The ADB plans to use its private sector assistance window to strengthen the financial, institutional and managerial capacity of the private sector through activities such as co-financing, technical assistance and capacity building. At the same time, the ADB will use its public sector assistance window to enforce a hospitable macroeconomic, policy, legal and regulatory environment (an “enabling environment”) for the “flourishing” of the private sector, such as more open trade and investment policies, deregulation of pricing, and other market favouring interventions. The agriculture sector would receive special attention. According to the ADB, increasing the market orientation of agriculture, all the way from pricing of inputs to management of natural resources will have tremendous impact on poverty reduction since the majority of Asia’s poor derive their livelihood from agricultural production
And what of governments? The ADB has a role for them too in their principle of “good governance.” Good governance in ADB parlance means re-orienting the work, capacity and resources of government to support economic restructuring and the private sector. This would be achieved through the development of new legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks for the development of markets, competition, market pricing, predictability, stability of operations, etc. The commercialisation and privatisation of state enterprises are highlighted in the ADB’s idea of good governance. The argument goes that a combination of privatised property rights and competitive markets will lead to the efficient utilisation and redirection of assets. They will also miraculously reduce corruption. Since full cost recovery and profits will replace public service and responsibility as motivating factors, privatised enterprises will necessarily create more goods and services for public consumption, and the poor will of course benefit. But here too, the ADB is quick to point out that these gains can only be possible within a wider institutional setting which in turn can only be achieved through the neo-liberal reforms that it has proposed all along.
Majority of the ADB’s policy experiments are brought together in its programme for sub-regional economic cooperation. Central to its core mandate of fostering regional economic development, sub- and regional economic cooperation was unable to take off in the ADB’s early years for a number of reasons. Deep rooted political-ideological divisions within Asia and the prevalence of nation-building sentiments resulted in countries focusing efforts on strengthening their respective national political and economic spheres. Given geopolitical conflicts and limited opportunities for trade within the region, neighboring countries often viewed each other as economic competitors or security threats. This situation changed considerably in the eighties as socialist countries started to open up, export oriented economic models gained favour in East and Southeast Asia, and new opportunities for trade and investment started to emerge within the region. Intra-regional economic cooperation started to elicit particular interest among industrialising countries, since it was seen as offering countries wider markets close to home which would allow Asian corporations to become stronger and compete more successfully in global markets. There was also the hope that as the region became less dependant on trade and investments from the West, opportunities to strengthen regional peace, security and stability would increase.
Well positioned to respond to these changes, by the end of the eighties, the ADB launched its strategy for regional economic cooperation and development. Thus far, this strategy has largely consisted of two elements: 1) loans and grants for Regional Technical Assistance (RETA) for project/programme feasibility studies, project/programme preparation, training of project/programme personnel and regional conferences to promote project/programmes; and 2) direct loans and co-financing for specific projects such as dams, roads and telecommunications through programmes such as the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and the BIMP EAGA.. Interestingly, the original idea of regional growth “polygons” was not entirely an ADB invention, but was developed by early Asian Tigers such as Singapore and Malaysia. The ADB subsequently adopted and expanded the idea to the level of sub-regional “masterplans,” which involve huge financial outlays, technical inputs, management capacity and regulatory frameworks. The ADB also reserved for itself the role of a catalyst or third party facilitator of private capital by reducing the risks to investors through co-financing, direct loan guarantees and the facilitation of government guarantees on returns to investments.
The GMS brings together the countries of Myanmar, the Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the province of Yunan in Southern China in a masterplan of cooperation on transport, energy, tourism, human resource development, telecommunications, trade and investment, and environment projects. A primary attraction of the GMS for planners and investors is the vast and as yet unexploited potential of natural resources in the region ranging from water, fisheries and forests to coal, gas and petroleum reserves. The BIMP EAGA brings together the countries of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Indonesia (BIMP) in an East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA). Initiatives under this masterplan range from policy frameworks to facilitate cross border movement of goods, capital, technology and labour, and commercial investments in agriculture, fisheries, agro-processing, skills development, tourism and export oriented manufacturing. In both cases, the exploitation of natural resources are central motifs and the exports of timber, forest resources, raw materials and energy have priority.
The ADB proudly touts the advantages of the sub-regional cooperation models that make them more attractive to private investors and accelerate business opportunities: lower risks and costs to the investors, non discriminatory to the source of capital, no cumbersome national laws or regulations to hamper investment opportunities, participating countries agree to essential infrastructure and special policies that are more liberal than national policies to attract capital, and natural resources used not to contribute towards national self-sufficiency, but to respond to regional imperatives. According to the ADB, the above will accelerate development through increased trade and investment, and since many of these programmes involve “lagging parts” of national economies, they could “potentially” contribute directly to poverty reduction.

Keeping the Poor in their Place

The ADB’s poverty reduction strategy claims that it has learned much from its past efforts about how to address the various dimensions of poverty. With all the billions spent and parallel debt incurred, someone certainly should have learned something, but what are these lessons? And how have they informed the Bank’s future plans?
The model of development promoted and financed by the ADB has not reduced poverty in any absolute sense. On the contrary, it has served to perpetuate the fiction that poverty can be reduced by the infusion of large amounts of capital along the lines prescribed by the ADB and other believers in market solutions to poverty. As some groups of people succeed in raising their incomes to survive above the minimum standard of US $ 1 a day, more take their place. And what of those who cross the line anyway? Are they able to exercise their “right to be reasonably rewarded, as well as have some protection from external shocks?” Recent experience in the region does not bear this out.
The policy reforms insisted upon by the ADB have contributed to serious setbacks for the poor in borrowing countries. The withdrawal of the State from the provision of social infrastructure and the dismantling of government subsidies for basic services have severely constrained the access of the poor to food, basic education, healthcare and sanitation, and with the current policy trend, this will likely get worse. Privatisation and corporatisation of state enterprises have led to the retrenchment of workers whose opportunities for re-employment are curtailed by simultaneous downsizing of other enterprises in order to keep production streamlined and efficient. The burden of external debt repayments and the need to maintain upward growth figures have further curtailed government abilities to provide and maintain safety nets for the most vulnerable populations.
The rush to orient domestic agricultural production towards export markets, the removal of pricing controls for agricultural products, and the infusion of local markets with external goods have reduced the competitiveness and stability of local agricultural producers in their own societies. Their ability to benefit from the so-called “economic vibrancy” of market based production has been weakened rather than strengthened by deteriorating terms of trade resulting from sudden shifts to unregulated, open markets. With increased dependency on external and often costly agricultural inputs, small farming families in countries such as Thailand, India, the Philippines and South Korea have grown deeper in debt and in many instances have lost their assets altogether. Rural to urban migration has increased as impoverished farming families are displaced from traditional occupations.
In a number of Asian countries (India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines are only some examples), rapid liberalisation of trade and investment, and the obsession with economic growth have led to the establishment of sub-contract factories and sweatshops where workers are paid less than minimum wage and work 12 to15 hour work days. It is often to these factories that rural migrants and family members of entrenched workers come to find the employment that results from the “pro-poor” economic growth that the ADB promotes. Children drop out of school-if they enroll to begin with-because their labour is essential for their families to be able to inch towards that invisible poverty line. Governments withhold increases in minimum wages, workers’ insurance and welfare benefits since the extra costs of protecting this “human capital” would make economic growth more expensive, thus reducing revenues and discouraging investors.
The ADB’s promotion of private sector expansion has generated its own special problems. In support of public-private partnerships, the ADB has argued that through the involvement of the private sector, economic risks can be better distributed among those who can best absorb them. A win-win situation in which capital deficit governments can access resources to build, operate and maintain infrastructure and production capacity without its attendant challenges or risks. But in practice, the opposite has happened. In order to attract private capital, governments have entered into agreements through which economic risks and responsibility are unevenly borne by governments and eventually by the public through levys, taxes, price increases, debt repayments, etc. The private sector, in most cases, has got away with a disproportionate share of profits and privileges. Infrastructure projects such as roads, dams, energy production units and waste management plants have externalised social and environmental costs, which again have been transferred onto the public realm in the form of social, environmental and long term economic mitigation. The role of governments as owners/investors as well as regulators in public-private partnership schemes have resulted in governmental inability to protect the public interest in an effort to recoup investments.
The sub-regional economic polygons promoted by the ADB are essentially large scale export processing zones, where private companies have disproportionately more power than the participating governments about the nature and direction of investments. At the heart of these zones are the most coveted resources of the region–land, energy deposits, water, forests and bio-diversity–which offer numerous profits for outside investors and those countries that are economically powerful enough to negotiate their interests (A major road project in the East West Corridor of the GMS that links Vietnam, the Lao PDR and Thailand has already been sharply criticised by Lao officials as heaping costs on the Lao PDR while providing benefits to Vietnam and Thailand). But these models also widened internal disparities among the participating territories, and disrupt national economic and social cohesion by creating pockets of high capital and infrastructure investment in an otherwise under-serviced region.
Under the special rules that operate in these sub-regional economic zones, the rights of local populations to natural resources such as land, water, fish and forests have been critically threatened. Customary resource tenure and use systems have been frequently over-ridden by governments in favour of privatised ownership leading to decreased food and economic security among local communities. Large scale energy projects and clearing of forests for commercial logging, plantations, roads, mining, industry and commercial agriculture have displaced subsistence farmers and indigenous communities, usually with little compensation. The Mekong river basin is a vast, complex and rich ecological system that provides sustenance for million of people in the sub-region. But under the GMS cooperation programme, natural resources and people are reduced to little more than raw materials and cheap, dispensable labour.
The ADB’s conceptualisation of good governance has and certainly will be good for large private interests and national elites who will benefit from easy access to natural resources and cheap labour, and the transference of commercial risks to the public at large. But this conceptualisation does not include addressing deeply rooted economic and social inequities, or support for basic human rights to resources, safe environments and freedom of expression, the rights of labour to organise and negotiate better deals for workers, the rights of indigenous peoples to self determination, the rights of peasant farmers to own and protect the land they farm, and the rights of women to a safe social environment. Good governance will do little for the poor, particularly women, as governments are increasingly unable (and often unwilling) to protect and ensure their rights to decent livelihoods, social services and economic security.
Admittedly, the ADB is not single-handedly responsible for the creation or entrenchment of poverty in the region. It has had plenty of help from the World Bank, the IMF and country governments both within and outside the region. And a lesson that none of them seem to have learned is that the private sector is not the messiah of development, nor do benefits necessarily accrue to all from open, deregulated, private sector led and market based development. The private sector has its role, and an important one, granted. But without strong public oversight and the counter-veiling power of civil society, such a model serves to entrench inequity, injustice and poverty. The Asian economic crisis was a crisis of gross mismanagement of the private sector, the result of which has been the transference of private sector risks and financial burdens on to the public at large and increased public debt.
One lesson that the ADB seems to have learned only too well is that it needs the poor as much, if not more than the poor need the ADB. The magic of the marketplace works best for the magicians themselves. For the ADB, this magic is contingent on ensuring that despite the vast amounts of financial resources that are poured into poverty reduction programmes, there will always be a significant number of poor in the region.

Shape Up or Ship Out

The true experts on poverty are not the ADB and their cohorts, but the ordinary people of Asia and the Pacific who have survived despite mainstream development and poverty reduction programmes. Rooted in diverse and complex realities, people in the region have been able to evolve their own ethical, cultural and political solutions to imposed forms of material poverty. They have attempted to rebuild their social and political fabric through solidarity movements, sharing, protection and re-generation of common resources, and revival of diverse, traditional forms of livelihoods. They have argued and showed through their actions that solutions to modern poverty lie not in increased consumption of material riches by a few, but in political, social and economic justice, and in fair and equitable access to resources and knowledge by all.
There is a lot that the ADB can learn about poverty from these other discourses, which are far more advanced, progressive and sophisticated than what the ADB is capable producing. But the ADB’s commitment to learning is driven by the imperative of institutional re-generation, and not by a desire to understand or address the conditions that cause poverty to begin with. Its reason for existence is to keep itself in business and poverty provides it with a effective justification. Unless it can radically restructure its own ideology, principles and practices, the ADB should put an end to this expensive pretence that it calls poverty reduction and just let people move on with their lives.