ISLAMABAD, (Pakistan Point News - APP -25th Augst,2016) : The 8th meeting of the Finance secretaries of the 8th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries here on Thursday called for collaboration in trade liberalization and strengthening regional connectivity. The secretaries highlighted the importance of learning lessons from each others' development experiences and financial inclusions for the common good of the of the people of member states.
The Finance secretaries of the SAARC member countries met here today to finalized agenda for the 8th SAARC Ministerial conference to be held here on August 26. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to address the inaugural session of the ministerial conference on Friday. The SAARC Finance Secretaries meeting unanimously elected Dr.Waqar Masood Khan Finance Secretary of Pakistan as Chairperson of the meeting to discuss the agenda of promoting peace, stability, and shared prosperity.
Secretary General of SAARC Arjun Bahadur Thapa of Nepal and Finance secretaries from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka attended the meeting. All the secretaries of the member states highlighted the economic performances of their respective countries and put forward recommendation for making SAARC as a platform for regional integration, by trade liberalization through SAFTA, regional connectivity and utilizing the rich resources of the region for the shared prosperity of the 1/5th of the world population residing in the South Asian region.
They also stressed the need for utilization of SAARC Development Fund (SDF) for building of infrastructures and promotion of social windows for the prosperity in the region. Dr.Waqar Masood Khan, the new chairperson of the meeting, welcomed the delegates from SAARC member countries to Pakistan. He stressed the need for focusing on areas including reduction or removal of non-tariff barriers, energy cooperation, trade facilitation measures, investment cooperation, reduction of products in the sensitive list and improvement in connectivity among SAARC member states.
He underlined the need for tangible recommendations for solution of problems to pull the people of the region out of poverty. A lot of progress has been made in this regard but more needed to be done in this regard, he added. Dr.Khan also called for making collective efforts for achieving the goals of peace and shared prosperity in the region. He expressed the hope that this meeting would come up with result oriented and fruitful recommendations to be sent to SAARC Ministerial Conference.
He also highlighted the reforms agenda initiated some three years ago which had resulted in stabilization of national economy, foreign exchange reserves were highest ever, successfully completed three years Extended Fund Facility Programme of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), interest rates were the lowest in three year,inflation is the lowest while the reforms initiatives have laid a good foundation for the economic stability in the country.
Secretary General of the SAARC, Arjun Bahadur Thapa in his remarks thanked Pakistan as a host country for making excellent arrangement for 8th SAARC Finance Ministers meeting. He on the occasion stressed the need for the implementation of the agenda of SAARC and highlighted the need for taking action to implement decisions. He also highlighted the achievement of SAARC and steps taken for the prosperity of the people in the region.
Delegates of all the member countries highlighted the performance of the economies of their respective countries and suggested ways for making SAARC more vibrant platform to lead the region towards economic development. On the occasion, the decisions of the 7th meeting of the SAARC Secretaries were reviewed and adopted. They also considered the report of Inter-Government Expert Group (IGEG), The meeting also considered the SAARC-ADB study on regional economic integration and double taxation report.