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World Bank to help Asian crisis fund

MANILA October 16 – The World Bank Thursday said it was ready to help Asian nations weather the financial crisis but did "not anticipate" a proposed regional emergency fund.

"We stand ready to support all of our member countries across East Asia to deal with the challenges arising from the financial crisis," the bank\’s East Asia and Pacific vice president Jim Adams said in a statement.

The World Bank however does "not anticipate the establishment of a regional facility," neither has it discussed "commitment of funds at the regional level," he said.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo on Wednesday announced that finance ministers from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc "had reached an understanding to establish a standby facility" to assist members experiencing severe liquidity problems.

She said the World Bank was committed to providing initial funding and that along with the IMF "it will draft the implementing mechanism."

The funds, she said, could be used to buy toxic assets and recapitalize troubled financial institutions.

Adams said the bank had held "numerous discussions" with individual countries during the recently held World Bank-International Monetary Fund annual meetings about ways to mitigate the impact of the crisis.

"The World Bank is also supporting the initiatives of the ASEAN members to share information and develop a coordinated response," Adams said.

He said ASEAN countries continue to perform well amid the crisis after instituting fiscal reforms following a similar problem that beset the Asian region in 1997.

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"Like all countries, Asian economies must be prepared to deal with any effects of the turmoil," Adams said.

The bank could provide increased lending, equity investments and safety net programs to governments and the private sector for them to manage the impact of the credit crunch, Adams said.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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