Investment in South Asia needed to bridge infrastructure gaps: Dar

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance, Muhammad Ishaq Dar has underlined the need for an investment of approximately US$ 2.5 trillion to bridge their infrastructure gaps for the benefit of the people of the region.

“In order to upscale the current efforts for bridging infrastructure gaps, SAARC member countries need to explore the potential of regional public private partnerships, and attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from abroad”, he said while addressing the 18th South Asia Economic Summit and Annual Sustainable Development Conference here last night.

Ishaq Dar assured the participants of the conference that Government would implement the key recommendations of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in forth coming trade policy regarding lowering of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, easing investment climate in Pakistan and strengthening regional ties through energy, transport and logistics agreements with central and South Asia.

The Finance minister said that government had adopted and implemented several recommendations forwarded by SDPI during current fiscal year on different policy making forums.He stressed the need for improving trade facilitation, trade in goods and services, non-tariff barriers, sensitive lists under South Asian Free Trade Area, and harmonization of standards.

He also called for improving customs procedures, transport connectivity, trade financing and exchange rate policies among SAARC member countries.

South Asia, he said was being faced the challenge of making trade and its gains inclusive and to link trade policies with the poverty reduction strategies of the South Asian governments.

He called for enhancing cooperations and investment into pro-poor technologies, cleaner forms of energy, innovative methods for agriculture and helping vulnerable communities from the adverse impacts of climate change.

Regional capital markets, cooperation in banking system and establishment of South Asian Development Bank can contribute to developing and sharing technology, he added.

Dar said that capacity building in emerging technologies like biotechnology, nano-technology and information and communication technologies could also become a shared activity across the region.

He also urged for activating SAARC Regional Centers for cooperating in technology for disaster management, early warning system, glacier monitoring and green technologies.

Pakistan and the region need to sit together and develop capacities towards adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts adding that SAARC region should work together to combat these challenges.

He said that through increased agricultural investment, technical cooperation and research and development in agriculture, the productivity can be increased.

The minister urged for regional efforts to strengthen food banks, learning from each other on effective social safety nets and seed banks making the region food safer and secure.

Finance Minister asked for strengthening regional women entrepreneurship networks and mentorship programmes to build supply chain linkages between women-led businesses.

The minister on the occasion appreciated the efforts of SDPI for hosting the conference and assured that policy recommendations of this conference will also be given due consideration on priority basis.

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