Economy and Business

Fourth South Asia Economic Summit

The recently ended Fourth South Asia Economic Summit has highlighted the need for political will and firm commitment of governments as vital to the prosperity of the region.

Oct 27, 2011

Greater South Asian coop in trade, connectivity, energy, food stressed

The recently ended Fourth South Asia Economic Summit has highlighted the need for political will and firm commitment of governments as vital to the prosperity of the region. While the economy has rightly been seen as the prime moving force of nations, the absence of political will and bureaucratic complexities have in fact been identified as the key causes behind the lack of effective cooperation in the region.

Democracy and accountability have been seen as key agents in the strengthening of individual nations as well as of the region overall. Engaging civil society with Saarc activities is one of the several recommendations made towards strengthening regional cooperation and making it more effective.

At one of the sessions of the summit, however, analysts have also spoken about the unmet promises and goals of poverty reduction set by South Asian leaders in the past.

They have pointed out that though there has been fast growth in the region, inequality has increased; people continue to suffer from poverty, malnutrition and unemployment, especially in rural areas; and spending for social protection of poor and marginalised people is the lowest in the world.

The utilisation of Safta and Saarc Framework Agreement on Trade in Services (SAFAS), budget sectoral reform and greater attention and resources dedicated to human development have been recommended as means of poverty reduction.

The summit has dealt with a wide range of issues, from energy and transit to climate change. We, however, hope that the discussions held and recommendations made will not be limited to mere talk or even pen and paper and that they will be reflected through change in the region. Needless to say, this will depend largely on the governments and leaders of the nations.

We hope that the next such summit will be a stocktaking of not promises unmet but on the lessons derived and knowledge gained from following up on recommendations of the just concluded one, which will lead to qualitative change in the lives of the people of the region.

( Daily Star Online)

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