Fifteenth Informal Meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers
16 September 2020
Finance Ministers/ Heads of Delegations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries held their 15th Informal Meeting on 16 September 2020 on the sidelines of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which was held on 17-18 September 2020. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Foreign Minister of the Government of Nepal, chaired the virtual meeting.
Discussing the huge challenges posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Mr. Gyawali stated that solidarity and collective efforts should be prioritized to fight the pandemic and its negative impacts on important areas of the economy. He also expressed appreciation to ADB for its continuous support to SAARC, as well as helping arrange the virtual meeting.
Mr. Esala R. Weerakoon, SAARC Secretary General, delivered a statement on “COVID-19 and South Asian Economies." His speech highlighted the adverse impacts of the pandemic on the economies of SAARC and the need for measures to deal and address them. He underlined the importance of collective action at this time of crisis, and lauded the immediate and swift response taken by the Members to address the adverse impacts of the pandemic. This includes the SAARC Leader’s agreement to the proposal of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to create a SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund. All member countries have pledged voluntary contributions to the fund. The SAARC Secretary General noted that interventions and proactive measures need to be continued.
Mr. Shixin Chen, Vice President (Operations I) of ADB, briefed the meeting about ADB initiatives and financial commitments for the region, and the status of collaboration between ADB and SAARC. He reaffirmed ADB’s continued commitment to collaborate with SAARC for the regions economic development and prosperity, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact.
Mr. Yasuyuki Sawada, Chief Economist and Director General, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department of ADB, delivered a presentation on "COVID-19 and South Asian Economies." The presentation took note of the possible impact of the pandemic, and the challenges and opportunities in the region.
Each country briefed the meeting about the measures it has undertaken to fight and mitigate the impact of the pandemic. They expressed hope that SAARC would continue to further progress in achieving its full potential for the benefit of the region’s people.
Finance Ministers/ Heads of Delegations who attended the meeting were Mr. Abdul Habib Zadran, Deputy Minister Administration and the Senior Advisor to Minister of Finance on Cost Saving in Security and Defense Sector, Ministry of Finance of the Government of Afghanistan; Md. Azizul Alam, Additional Secretary, Finance Division, Ministry of Finance of the Government of Bangladesh; Mr. Lekzang Dorji, Director General, Department of Macroeconomic Affairs, Ministry of Finance of the Government of Bhutan; Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance of the Government of India; Mr. Ibrahim Ameer, Minister of Finance of the Government of Maldives; Mr. Mohsin Mushtaq Chandna, Official Spokesperson and Special Secretary, Finance Division, Ministry of Finance of the Government of Pakistan; and Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Finance and Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms of the Government of Sri Lanka.
Read the full Press Release.