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78% ADB-financed Projects Rated Successful

Seventy-eight percent of China's 52 projects involving loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) were rated successful or highly successful, an ADB official said in Beijing Friday.

Bruce Murray, director general of the bank's operations evaluation department, said past ADB evaluation results of 52 projects in China ranked China the fourth of all ADB's developing member countries, after Thailand, Mongolia and Maldives.

The evaluation results of the projects, involving four approved in late 1980s and 46 in the 1991-1996 period, indicate that vast majority of the projects achieved satisfactory to excellent physical outputs with minimum delays on budget, he said at a seminar sponsored by the bank and China's National Development and Reform Commission.

The projects are mostly roads, bridges, power plants and wastewater treatment plants.

There is still room for improvement for China to make the best use of the loans provided by the bank, said Murray, who lived and worked in China for 16 years.

Many of the ADB-financed expressways he saw in the past 16 years were underutilized with low traffic, although they were first class and the quality of construction was excellent, he said.

"I understand that when you build infrastructure do not just build for today. You build for the next 20 years or 30 years. No one doubts that good roads are essential for economic development and that better roads have stimulated economic development in many part of the PRC (China)," he said.

"However, the question remains: Is building expressways the best investment, timely and at this particular location. Particularly compared to other alternatives such as improving the hospitals or building better schools?" he said.

China has become "more transparent in public policy making, and it is likely that tax payers and stakeholders will increasingly ask this type of questions", he said.

Murray became the first chief representative of ADB China Mission until 2004 after China resumed its ADB membership in 1986.

The bank has provided a total of 13.8 billion US dollars in loans to projects in China.

It has committed to loans totaling US$4.5 billion for China during 2005 and 2007, mainly for infrastructure, agriculture and natural resources management, energy and urban development projects.

(Xinhua News Agency September 17, 2005)

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