SDF ready to play a key role in forming Economic Union of SAARC
The fourth meeting of SAARC Development Fund’s (SDF’s) Governing Council was held along with the Seventh meeting of the Finance Ministers of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s (SAARC) on Thursday, August 20, 2015.
The Governing Council of SDF comprising the Finance Ministers of the SAARC Member States agreed to extend assistance in economic and infrastructure sector of the Member States by operationalizing the Economic and Infrastructure Windows of the SAARC Development Fund (SDF). The meeting also agreed on allowing the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) to invest in infrastructure projects in a single SAARC Member State provided it has direct benefits to at least one more SAARC member state, in an attempt to activate the infrastructure and economic windows under the SDF.
“The primary objective of SDF is to promote the welfare of the people of SAARC region, improve their quality of life, and accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation. To support these objectives, SDF has mandate to identify the projects, finance projects, mobilize funds, provide financing and technical assistance including managing of the Fund.” said Dr. Sunil Motiwal, Chief Executive Officer of SDF.
Dr. Motiwal also said, “SDF is currently implementing nine regional projects with 56 implementing and lead implementing agencies covering all the eight Member States under the Social Window funding. Our projects are intended to meet important socioeconomic needs in our member countries. They range from strengthening the livelihood of home-based workers and addressing the needs of small farmers, enabling connectivity and content of e-governance to rural population, to reducing infant mortality and taking steps at ending violence against children. The SDF Secretariat has already committed USD 66.512 million for social window projects as of date out of which it has disbursed USD 32.54 million to the Member States for Social Window projects as of date. We are now ready to activate the economic and infrastructure windows as the Governing Council has agreed to allow the SDF to invest in infrastructure projects in a single SAARC member state provided it has direct benefits to at least one more SAARC member state.”
Dr. Motiwal further said that the Governing Council of SDF has approved co funding of projects through technical and financial support from UN agencies, multilateral/regional funds and other non-regional partners. This will liberate SDF to work and collaborate with other international organizations.
“SAARC Development Fund is ready play a key role in forming economic union of SAARC through funding of projects under its Social, Economic and Infrastructure Windows”
“I am happy to announce that SDF is intending to commence funding of projects in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Program through regional funding agencies in the SAARC Member States. SDF is also in the process of launching the Social Enterprise Development Program (SEDP) with collaboration of the World Bank Group. The goal of SEDP is to leverage knowledge, skills and social mobilization capacity of Social Enterprises to scale and disseminate innovative solutions in the SAARC Region”, said Dr. Motiwal.
The SDF was established and inaugurated on 28th April, 2010 by the Heads of States/ Governments during the Sixteenth SAARC Summit held in Thimphu. The Fund serves as the umbrella financial institution for SAARC projects and programmes, which are in fulfilment of the objectives of the SAARC Charter. It is aimed to contribute to regional cooperation and integration through project collaboration.
SDF has three financing windows – namely Social, Economic and Infrastructure. The Social Window primarily funds projects, on poverty alleviation, social development focusing on education; health; human resources development; support to vulnerable /disadvantaged segments of the society; funding needs of communities, mirco-enterprises, rural infrastructure development. The Economic Window extends funding to non-infrastructural projects related to trade and industrial development, agriculture, service sector, science and technology and other non-infrastructure areas and the Infrastructure Window is primarily utilized to fund projects in areas such as energy, power, transportation, telecommunications, environment, tourism and other infrastructure areas. Out of total fund of USD 426 million, USD 117 million is committed to the Social Window, USD 154 million to Economic Window and USD 147 million to the Infrastructure Window.