By Xinhua writers Guo Xiaoyu, Liu Hongxia and Yu Jiaxin, BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Embracing its fifth anniversary on Saturday, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) remains committed to promoting economic growth and social progress in pursuit of more inclusive and sustainable development, and keeps forging cooperation with more parts of the world.
In half a decade since kicking off operations, the Beijing-headquartered multilateral development institution has grown from 57 founding members to more than 100 approved members from all around the globe. In addition, it has continued to maintain the highest credit rating with a stable outlook from the largest credit rating agencies, including Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch.
HELPING HAND IN PANDEMIC
With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across the globe, the AIIB has unveiled immediate measures to help its members weather economic and healthcare strains.
The bank has created a COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility to support AIIB members and clients in mitigating economic, financial and public health pressures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between April 2020 and Oct. 16, 2021, the facility is expected to offer up to 13 billion U.S. dollars worth of financing to both public and private sector entities in AIIB members facing or at risk of adverse pandemic-induced impacts.
Apart from supporting emergency public health needs, such as health infrastructure for emergency preparedness and clients whose infrastructure investments are severely impacted by the pandemic, the facility aims to provide financing for other productive sectors hit by the COVID-19 pandemic to sustain production capacity.
Targeted assistance has been offered to those hit hard by the pandemic. To help Bangladesh respond to COVID-19, the bank has approved a loan of 100 million dollars to help the country ramp up testing, tracing and treatment capacity and improve long-term pandemic preparedness.
Shedding light on the project in Bangladesh, Laurel Ostfield, director general of AIIB's Communications Department, said the bank is part of the coordinated international response to support its members in navigating the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. She expected the investment to help Bangladesh contain COVID-19 and strengthen its pandemic preparedness.
"A well-managed and robust development institution must be nimble enough to deal with external shocks and responsive enough to adapt to the changing needs of its clients while also adhering to our mission of promoting economic and social development in Asia," said Jin Liqun, AIIB president and chair of the board.
The international community needs to come together to pool resources to help the world navigate the current pandemic and economic upheaval, Jin said, adding that AIIB is committed to fully playing its role.
Since its launch, the AIIB has been dedicated to promoting infrastructure construction, regional connectivity and mutual development in Asia.
To date, the bank has provided over 22 billion dollars in infrastructure investment for its members and approved 108 projects.
The latest progress can be seen in Sri Lanka, where the AIIB's first affordable public housing project in the country broke ground in November 2020. Scheduled to be completed and opened by July 2022, the project aims to build 700 housing units in the northern Colombo suburb of Applewatta.
"We thank AIIB for all the cooperation given to us. We are hoping to cooperate more and more with them in order to accomplish his excellency the president's vision, which is that shelter is a right for everybody," said Sirinimal Perera, secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing.
The AIIB has provided much-needed funding and resources to countries that are still in their early stages of development, said Zhu Ning, professor of finance and deputy dean at Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
It is also providing a very important working mechanism among different countries in terms of trying to provide much needed developmental financing and trying to help the economy grow in different parts of the world, Zhu added.
Looking forward to Asia's post-pandemic future, the AIIB has highlighted green and social infrastructure among its five key focus areas.
Stressing expanding green infrastructure investment, Jin called for efforts to help its members complete their shift to new energy, adding that infrastructures should minimize the use of energy in urban construction of Asian countries.
Continued efforts have been made by the AIIB in pursuit of its green endeavor in recent years, including initiating a project for low carbon energy transition and air quality improvement in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
By approving financing worth 500 million dollars, the project aims to increase the availability of natural gas to help reduce coal consumption and related emissions in the region.
Meanwhile, the bank has decided that climate financing will account for half of its total financing approvals by 2025.
Green infrastructure will help relevant countries and regions accelerate economic transformation and upgrade, as well as move toward carbon neutrality, Jin said.
Such infrastructure will also facilitate economic and social development without "leaving footprints" on the environment, he said.
(Xinhua reporters You Zhixin in Shanghai and Liu Chuntao in Dhaka contributed to this story.)