Less corruption, less money laundering are secrets of success

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol gives a speech during the opening session of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Incheon, South Korea, 3 May 2023.

The question came from the audience: what is the secret of the South Korea’s development? The governor of the Bank of Korea, Chang Yong Rhee, replied in a few words. He said the big secret of development is to create good governance where it has been possible to keep the level of corruption at very low. It cannot be said there is no corruption, but it is very low. A better and effective macroeconomic policy has been followed and that stability was maintained. Besides, the affluent were never given privileges that them to launder money. Rather South Korea was very cautious to stop money laundering from the beginning. As a result, the money of the country has been invested here. Besides, investment was made for quality education and the country received the outcome. Another reason for development was the creation of a very skilled public administration. And the last reason is that people of this country work very hard, for which Chang Yong Rhee expressed gratitude to their forefathers.

Another speaker at the event, Indonesian finance minister Mulyani Indrawati, admitted that the most important issue for development is good governance. Besides, a good macroeconomic policy is also necessary as well as prevention of corruption and money laundering, which many countries could not do so.

The 56th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is underway at Incheon, South Korea with the theme “Rebounding Asia: Recover, Reconnect, and Reform”. There was a session titled ‘Governors’ Seminar: Policies to Support Asia’s Rebound” on the second day of the event on Wednesday. The finance ministers or central bank governors of the ADB member countries are the ADB governors. Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, German parliamentary state secretary and federal minister for economic cooperation and development Niels Annen, and ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa spoke at the seminar while international broadcaster and president of SOAS, London University, Zeinab Badawi moderated the event.

The 4 'I's

What is necessary for the rebound of economy was the topic of the event. Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said since the Covid-19 pandemic they focused on maintaining immediate food security and direct assistance to the poor. Side by side, it is also necessary to have a long–term plans for an economic rebound because a recovery of economy is not entirely possible without high growth, and high growth will not happen without an economic recovery either. She, however, underscored the need for four 'I's -- infrastructure, investment, innovation and inclusivity – for future. She explained the four 'I's saying infrastructure is amust; investment should come from the private sector; innovative power should be used bringing youth to the mainstream of economy and providing them with opportunity to open startups; and development must happen with inclusion of all.

Need for structural reform

Korean central bank's governor observed that the banking system in Asia varies from the US banking system, and that does not mean that there is nothing to worry about. Rather, the banking system in this region requires strong control mechanism and monitoring system even more. In particular, focus must increase on the non-banking financial sector. He said the US is raising interest rates, so there must be plans to survive amid high interest rate.

Indonesian finance minister Mulyani Indrawati said it will require multilateral cooperation to resolve existing crises and no country can solve the crises alone because resources are needed now as much as trust and faith. Since multilateral donors can provide all these, reforms have become more important than before. He stressed on structural reform.

German minister Niels Annen advised not to depend on donor assistance only saying all small and big countries are in crisis and private sector investment, in fact, is necessary in this situation.

ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa mainly spoke about climate change. He said, “We are talking about economic recovery, but industrialisation, too, pays environmental costs. So, we must take up such investment and trade policies that will not damage climate in the process of recovery.”

President at inaugural event

The inaugural event was held at the beginning, 11:00am local time, prior to the seminar, which started at 2:30pm. Security was beefed up in the Songdo Convensia Convention Center area. Though people follow traffic laws in South Korea, police were seen on streets on Wednesday.

Passports along with a ADB badges were required as part of additional security. My passport was checked to match the information provided during registration. I was then provided with a separate security sticker. South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol inaugurated the annual conference. South Korean deputy prime minister and minister of economy and finance Choo Kyung-ho and ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa also spoke at the event.

President Yoon Suk Yeol emphasized fixing the broken supply chain to recover the economy saying the production sector of South Korea has one the largest production capacity of world’s best technology, chips, biotechnology and reusable batteries. South Korea would help Asian countries fix supply chain and cooperate with ADB on its new loan programme on climate change, he added.

K-Hub to tackle climate change

The South Korean finance minister and the ADB president signed an agreement on K-Hub, which will be launched in the country in 2024. The K-Hub will work on dialogue, networking and providing technological assistance to tackle climate change-related challenges

A Korean cultural night was one of the attractions on Wednesday night, featuring traditional Korean dances and songs, and performances of popular K-pop groups Forestella and NewJeans.

The annual meeting will conclude on Friday.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna