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Thursday, November 18, 1999 Published at 18:32 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

'Asian management culture must change'

Bangkok was hit hard by the Asian financial crisis

By BBC East Asia Reporter Clare Arthurs

Corporate responsibility in Asia must improve, particularly in family-run enterprises, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says.

The bank blames the last two years of economic crisis in part on a concentration of company ownership, and on powerful and self-interested family businesses.

The bank's study took in Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

The companies critcised in the report pursued their own interests while minority shareholders and creditors were left in the cold, according to its findings.

'Little compliance, weak enforcement'

The economic crisis which began in 1997 has been partly blamed on the excessive loans given to some of these companies.

The Asian Development Bank says that while some governments had been moving to strengthen corporate regulations, in all five countries there is little compliance with company law and enforcement is weak.

It calls for a greater role for banks in supervising company behaviour, and for improved standards of accounting and auditing.

The ADB is also linking economic development with programmes in the rural and social sectors.

Last week it announced much of its future activity would be in projects which directly reduce poverty. Now the results of that change in focus are coming through.

New projects

The bank has announced new loan-funded projects including a $60m loan for road building in Papua New Guinea's Highlands.

It says there is a lack of infrastructure to serve half the country's population and its important primary industries - including minerals and cash crops.

New roads will also help deliver health and education - a major problem for Papua New Guinea.

In Laos, the Bank is providing $20m for water and sanitation works. They will benefit town communities near the capital Vientiane, communities which currently rely on wells or overpriced supplies from water vendors.

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