The Fifteenth Informal Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers was held on 16 September 2020 from 1 PM to 3 PM (Manila Time) in Virtual Mode, on the sidelines of 53rd Annual Meeting of Asian Development Bank (ADB), also being held in Virtual Mode on 17-18 September 2020.
The Meeting, attended by the Finance Ministers/Heads of Delegations from all the SAARC Member States, was held under the Chairmanship of Foreign Minister of Nepal Pradeep Kumar Gyawali.
In his opening statement, the Chairman thanked ADB for its continuous support to SAARC. He also commended excellent arrangements made by SAARC Secretariat and ADB for the Meeting in Virtual Mode for the first time.Indicating the huge challenges posed by the COVID 19 pandemic, he stated that solidarity and collective efforts should be the priority to fight the pandemic and its negative impacts on important areas of the economy.
The Secretary General of SAARC, Esala R. Weerakoon made a statement in the context of the Meeting’s theme "COVID - 19 and South Asian Economies" and highlighted the adverse impacts of the pandemic on the economies of the Member States of SAARC and the need for measures to deal and address them.
He also underlined the importance of collective action at this time of crisis. Praising the immediate and swift response taken by the Members to address the adverse impacts of the pandemic and especially SAARC Leader’s agreement to the proposal of the Hon Prime Minister of India to create a SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund to which all the countries have pledged their voluntary contributions, he mentioned that interventions and proactive measures are required to be continued.
Shixin Chen, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank, (Operations I) briefed the Meeting about the initiatives and financial commitments already made by ADB for the region along with the status of collaboration between ADB and SAARC. He reaffirmed ADB’s commitment to continue collaboration with SAARC for economic development and prosperity of the peoples in the region especially in view of the COVID 19 and its negative impacts.
The Finance Ministers/Heads of Delegation briefed the Meeting about the measures taken to fight and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic along with current status of economic progress achieved by them, appreciated the contribution made by ADB in their economic growth and hoped that SAARC would make further progress to achieve its full potential for the benefit of peoples of the region.
Yasuyuki Sawada, Chief Economist and Director General, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department of the ADB made a presentation on the important theme of this Meeting, "COVID - 19 and South Asian Economies".The presentation highlighted the present situation of the pandemic, its possible impacts on economies along with challenges and opportunities in the region.