Manila, Philippines (BBN)– The Asian Development Bank (ADB) remains a committed development partner of the government of Bhutan, President Haruhiko Kuroda said at the conclusion of a 3-day visit to the country.
Mr. Kuroda, who paid a courtesy call on His Majesty the King of Bhutan and met with Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley, lauded Bhutan’s strong progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, with poverty rate cut from just over 36 per cent in 2000 to around 23 per cent in 2007, an ADB press statement said here on Saturday. 
The Bhutan economy, which is highly dependent on sales of electricity to India, was only mildly affected by the global financial crisis and growth is expected to remain strong in the near term, driven by up to 10 planned hydropower projects. 
At the same time, unemployment, lack of skilled labor for key industries, gaps in infrastructure development, and an underdeveloped private sector are areas the country must address in the medium to longer term.
For the next four years, ADB’s investment program includes a renewable energy project to support the government’s rural electrification program, urban infrastructure, rural roads, domestic airport improvements, and capacity-building support for government agencies, according to the statement.
Since Bhutan joined ADB in 1982 it has received nearly $384 million in lending and non-lending assistance, and in 2009 disbursements reached an all-time high of $35.6 million. 
Currently, there are ongoing lending operations worth a net $228.6 million. From 2006, all assistance has been in the form of grants, except for the Bhutan Green Power Development Project which has multiple sources of finance.
BBN/SS/SI/AD-31July10-12:45 pm (BST)