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Asian finance officials to meet in Manila


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October 21, 2008

Asian finance officials to meet in Manila to set up crisis fund
Senior officials from Asian nations will meet in Manila next month to mull a Philippine proposal for an emergency fund to help the region weather the financial crisis, AFP quoted a finance minister as saying Monday.

Philippine officials met in Washington earlier this month with finance ministers from the Asean bloc plus Japan, South Korea and China to seek agreement on the standby fund, Filipino Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said.

The ministers agreed at one of several meetings, organised with the World Bank, to hold a "technical working group meeting in Manila" on the standby fund which would help Asian nations with liquidity problems, he said.

Teves told a news conference that the Manila meeting on the proposed fund to be called the "Asean Preparedness Plan" was tentatively set for November 12.

The meeting will include officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) - which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - plus its three large neighbouring trade partners China, Japan and South Korea.

He said the Philippines hoped the proposal would win endorsement from leaders of 13 countries meeting at the Asean summit in Bangkok on December 18.

His announcement comes after the World Bank publicly denied a statement from President Gloria Arroyo last week that the multilateral lender had indicated it would commit 10 billion dollars in seed money for the proposed fund.

The bank's East Asia and Pacific vice president Jim Adams said on Thursday it does "not anticipate the establishment of a regional facility," and neither has it discussed "commitment of funds at the regional level."

Arroyo had suggested the standby fund could be used to buy "toxic" assets and recapitalise troubled financial institutions.

Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said that although the standby fund was a Philippine proposal, none of the other finance ministers at the Washington meetings had opposed it.

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