Fourth Min­is­ters and the sixth Sec­re­taries Meet­ing of the SAARC on Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion con­cluded

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Sonam Pen­jor

The fourth meet­ing of SAARC Min­is­ters pre­ceded by the sixth meet­ing of the SAARC sec­re­taries on poverty alle­vi­a­tion was held in the cap­i­tal last week.

While the meet­ing of SAARC Min­is­ters re­viewed the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the de­ci­sions that had taken at the third min­is­te­rial meet­ing and dis­cuss the is­sues, share ex­pe­ri­ences, best prac­tices and to take for­ward new ideas in ad­dress­ing poverty and strengthen ties in terms of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion amongst mem­ber states.

The Chair­man of the SAARC Sec­re­taries meet­ing, Sec­re­tary for Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness Com­mis­sion, Mr. Sonam Wangchuk, said that de­spite con­sid­er­able progress made to­wards poverty alle­vi­a­tion, cer­tain sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion still re­main un­der poverty. In all our coun­tries, poverty still re­mains key chal­lenge for the re­gion.

The Chair­man of the SAARC Min­is­ters on poverty alle­vi­a­tion and the Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ly­onpo Nam­gay Dorji, said that the fourth min­is­te­rial meet­ing of the poverty alle­vi­a­tion was a spe­cial events for Bhutan as she hosted the meet­ing for the first time.

Ly­onpo added that this meet­ing was also a timely as SAARC decades on poverty alle­vi­a­tion 2006-2016 is com­ing to an end and there­fore, time for the mem­bers states to take stop of an achieve­ment so far an ef­fort to free South Asia from poverty. As a global com­mu­nity SAARC must take note of the achieve­ment and the chal­lenges face in achiev­ing mil­len­nium de­vel­op­ment goal as we em­bark to­wards prepa­ra­tion of the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals for the post 2050.

As a SAARC decades on poverty is com­ing to an end, re­cent dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake that struck Nepal this year. Such a nat­u­ral calami­ties of un­be­liev­able mag­ni­tudes ob­vi­ously im­pact on plans, poli­cies, strate­gies an pushes peo­ple to poverty once again and re­open the chal­lenges, said the Min­is­ter .

Ly­onch­hen Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay who was the Chief Guest at the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the fourth meet­ing of SAARC Min­is­ters at Tashi Taj said that erad­i­cat­ing hunger and food poverty re­mains an im­por­tant ob­jec­tive given that this ex­treme form of hu­man de­pri­va­tion is deeply in­im­i­cal to the no­tion of hu­man hap­pi­ness and well-be­ing. And it is very telling that the Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goal tar­gets have been met ev­ery­where ex­cept in South Asia and Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

Ly­onch­hen added that South Asia has achieved sig­nif­i­cant over­all de­vel­op­ment and eco­nomic growth in re­cent decades. Some of our coun­tries and cit­i­zens have be­come world lead­ers in fields as pow­er­ful and dy­namic as Tele­com and ICT, in Literature and the Arts, in cul­tural and spir­i­tual prac­tices, in the culi­nary tra­di­tions, tourism, and many other ar­eas.

The SAARC sum­mit in Kathmandu in Novem­ber last year, noted that, de­spite nat­u­ral and man­made dis­as­ters, South Asia had in­deed come a long way in im­prov­ing the lives of its cit­i­zens.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2014 World Bank De­vel­op­ment In­di­ca­tors, the pro­por­tion of peo­ple in the de­vel­op­ing liv­ing on less than $1.25 a day fell from 43.1 per­cent in 1990 to 20.6 per­cent in 2010. Ly­onch­hen said that the MDGs aimed to halve ex­treme poverty and the post 2015 de­vel­op­ment agenda, through the adop­tion of the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs), is ex­pected to re­in­force ef­forts in erad­i­cat­ing poverty and end­ing hunger. These are welcome achieve­ments but we can­not ig­nore the fact that the erad­i­ca­tion of poverty is still a dis­tant as­pi­ra­tion.

Ly­onch­hen fur­ther pointed out that the over­all goal of the 11th FYP (2013-2018), is ‘Self-Re­liance and In­clu­sive Green So­cio-Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment’, with par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on re­duc­ing mul­ti­di­men­sional poverty, in­come in­equal­i­ties, malnutrition and grow­ing ur­ban poverty. In ad­di­tion to the NRP and REAP, a new pro­gram tar­get­ing the poor­est house­holds has been ini­ti­ated – the Tar­geted House­hold Poverty Pro­gramme (THPP). Un­der this pro­gramme, 3154 poor­est house­holds have been iden­ti­fied based on mul­ti­di­men­sional poverty se­lec­tion cri­te­ria and sur­veys are un­der­way to re-val­i­date the house­holds, de­velop need-based in­ter­ven­tions and es­tab­lish a com­pre­hen­sive poverty data­base in the coun­try.

Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of SAARC Mr. Ar­jun Ba­hadur Thapa, said that this meet­ing have taken place at a very cru­cial time when the whole com­mu­ni­ties is at the thresh­old of de­cid­ing the post 2015 de­vel­op­ment agenda. At our own re­gional level, we came to the fi­nal year im­ple­men­ta­tion of the SAARC de­vel­op­ment goals and the ob­ser­vant of 2006 to 2015 as the SAARC decade poverty alle­vi­a­tion.

More than 10 years ago, the Heads of State or Gov­ern­ment of the SAARC coun­tries de­clared their com­mit­ment to the goal that even the poor­est per­son in South Asia must have at least a good square “Dal Bhat” meal. This sim­ple but pro­found South Asian ex­pres­sion of our true goal must con­tinue to ring through our minds, through our de­vel­op­ment poli­cies, and through SAARC’s jour­ney to im­prove the lives of all South Asians, said the Ly­onch­hen.

Mean­while, the out­come of the meet­ing, Ly­onpo Nam­gay Dorji, said dur­ing the press con­fer­ence that the meet­ing adopted on the progress made so far in the field of poverty alle­vi­a­tion in the re­spec­tive coun­tries and each mem­ber coun­try had done a re­mark­able and com­mend­able job. The sec­ond out­come Ly­onpo added that the mem­ber coun­try also very much well in the track in terms of the plans of the so­cioe­co­nomic plan in line with the poverty alle­vi­a­tion.

The mem­ber coun­tries also agree to re­view the SAARC de­vel­op­ment goals and plan of ac­tion on poverty alle­vi­a­tion in the light of post 2015. And another out­come of the meet­ing, Ly­onpo added that, mem­ber also agree to use the fo­rum to share best prac­tices and in­no­va­tive ideas on poverty alle­vi­a­tion those are un­der im­ple­men­ta­tion of their re­spec­tive coun­tries.

Mean­while, the Third SAARC Min­is­ters on Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion Meet­ing pre­ceded by Fifth Meet­ing on SAARC Sec­re­taries on Poverty Alle­vi­a­tion was held in Kathmandu in 2013 and next meet­ing will be hosted in Bangladesh.

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