KATHMANDU, Aug 23: The strategic plan to implement SAARC Development Fund (SDF) is being tabled in the upcoming 8th Finance Ministers' Meeting of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Officials say the plan is likely to be endorsed from the meeting and enter into the implementation phase.
The meeting, scheduled to be held in Islamabad on August 26, is likely to approve the plan, paving the way for implementation of SEF. Similarly, it is also expected to approve SDF's lending policy for implementation of infrastructure and economic window to finance infrastructure projects and economic programs in member countries.
SDF has capital of US$ 300 million.
Surya Pokharel, under secretary of Ministry of Finance, says that the policy also opens up door for financing private sector projects. Social window programs are already under implementation. Nine such projects are already being implemented in SAARC member countries.
A road connectivity proposal titled 'South Asia Sub Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Improvements Project that connects Nepal with neighboring countries is under consideration. Asian Development Bank has already agreed to co-finance the project. Around 600 km section of the 14,490 km project lie in Nepal's East West Highway and its few feeder roads.
Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara will attend the meeting. SDF board meeting and finance secretary level meeting will precede the finance minister level meeting on August 24 and 25, respectively.
Enhancement of intra-region investment is another key agenda of the meeting. The meeting will also discuss on a policy document prepared by India on the issue.
India has already prepared a policy document on investment promotion and projection in member countries and the inputs have already been collected, added Pokharel.
The meeting is expected to accelerate process of regional cooperation for South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) among member countries.
The 7th Finance Ministers' meeting of the SAARC was held in Kathmandu on August 20. It had discussed number of issues like trading in local currency and expanding more investment in the region, among others.