ISLAMABAD : The Asian Development Bank (ADB) operations for Asia and the Pacific reached an all-time high of $31.5 billion in 2016, a 17% increase from $26.9 billion in 2015, according to preliminary data released on Tuesday.

Approvals of ADB loans, grants, technical assistance, and co-financing have been growing steadily over the years as development needs in the region continue to rise.

Approvals of loans and grants for sovereign (government) and non-sovereign (primarily the private sector) operations by ADB itself reached a record $17.5 billion, a 9% increase from $16.0billion in 2015.

Non-concessional loans from ADB’s Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) amounted to $14.4 billion.

Concessional loans and grants from the Asian Development Fund (ADF) reached $3.1 billion, with $2.6 billion going to loans and $518 million to grants while the Technical assistance, meanwhile, increased by around 20% to $170 million from 2015’s $141 million figure.

The strong showing of ADB’s operations was based on the larger financing capacity generated by the anticipated merger of the bank’s two main financial instruments – ADF and OCR – which formally took effect on 1 January 2017.

With this innovative reform, ADB’s annual approvals of loans and grants will increase up to $20 billion by 2020.

For the period 2017-2020, a successful ADF replenishment, concluded in May 2016, will allow ADB to substantially increase support to the region’s poorest countries.

The replenished ADF will also enable ADB to provide grant resources for disaster risk management and regional health initiatives.

Total disbursements of ADB loans and grants reached $12.5 billion in 2016 – the highest ever. This strong performance is tied to the reforms ADB has implemented to fast track procurement and implementation processes.

According to the data, the co-financing also expanded, reaching $13.9 billion in 2016 from $10.7 billion in 2015, a growth of 29%. This is on the back of ADB’s greater partnerships and collaboration with various development stakeholders in the Asia and Pacific region.

Some of the strong partnerships ADB undertook in 2016 include cofinancing with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for a road project in Pakistan and natural gas project in Bangladesh.

Agreements were also signed with other development partners including an innovative guarantee agreement with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to increase ADB financing by $500 million over the next 10 years, and a landmark agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to finance private sector infrastructure projects for $6 billion.