Vietnam, ADB sign $1.38 bln loan package

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The Asian Development Bank and the State Bank of Vietnam on Thursday signed a US$1.38 billion financial assistance package to enhance the country's clean water access, conserve threatened forests and ease traffic gridlock.

The total cost of the three projects is almost $4.5 billion, ADB said in a statement. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung witnessed the signing in Hanoi.

"ADB's assistance will help ensure that more people in Vietnam have access to clean water, more livable cities, and biologically diverse forests that will be preserved for future generations," said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda.

Of the assistance package, $1 billion will help improve clean water access for 3 million families in Vietnam, as part of a larger $2.8 billion investment program.

The Manila-based bank said a $30 million loan will enhance cross-border cooperation in protecting a biodiversity-rich forest area which spans the highlands of Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam Provinces.

"Sustainable economic development and environmental preservation are intertwined," said Kuroda. "In the long term, coupling conservation and livelihood improvements will help ensure that Vietnam's forests and their biodiversity are managed well."

ADB also agreed to a $350 million loan, the first tranche of an overall $636 million package. This will support a $1.6 billion project to construct a modern expressway south of congested Ho Chi Minh City, reducing traffic by allowing vehicles traveling from east to west to bypass the city center, ADB said.

ADB is holding its annual gathering in Hanoi, which will run from Tuesday through Friday.

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