The ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF) is set to begin its lending operations in the second half of 2013, with a pipeline of around 1 billion USD for infrastructure projects in the next three years.

The information was released by the AIF Board of Directors at its meeting on May 1, which took place on the sidelines of the 46th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The AIF meeting also discussed the progress of infrastructure projects identified for the pipeline, the development of financial policy, risk-management frameworks, and efforts to support public-private partnership (PPP) in infrastructure development.

Key areas of progress include receipt of the contributions from the shareholders and the completion of all necessary administrative arrangements for the full operations of the fund.

Bambang Brodjonegoro, head of the Fiscal Policy Agency under Indonesian Ministry of Finance and also the AIF’s Co-Chair, said that AIF had an active year and what AIF has accomplished was to lay the groundwork for projects to come and the progress to be made in the years ahead.

According to Arjun Goswami, Director of the Regional Cooperation and Operations Division of the ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, the projects have been carefully selected to reflect the AIF’s priorities and the ADB’s emphasis on poverty reduction, inclusive growth, environmental sustainability, and regional integration.

Set up in Malaysia in April 2012, the AIF initially planned to provide annual loans of 300 million USD. Its shareholders include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and ADB.

According to AIF, Southeast Asian countries have enjoyed decades of strong growth, but even with recent economic gains, its infrastructure stands behind the Asian average and is much weaker than that of advanced economies. It is estimated that ASEAN needs 60 billion USD a year from 2010-2020 to develop its infrastructure.-VNA