Private investment, domestic resources and remittance to drive Asian Finance: Dhaka EGM

(left) Debapriya Bhattacharya, H E Lee Yun-young, A H M Mustafa Kamal, MP, Mustafizur Rahman, Robert Watkins and Sering Falu Njie

(left) Debapriya Bhattacharya, H E Lee Yun-young, A H M Mustafa Kamal, MP, Mustafizur Rahman, Robert Watkins and Sering Falu Njie

Countries in South Asia and South East Asia have shifted reliance from overseas development aid (ODA) to domestic resources for financing development but yet to strengthen their institutional frameworks for coordination.

Bangladesh needs to enhance focus on revenue generation, FDI, private investment, remittance, export and intra-regional trade for financing development in the evolving scenario.

The observations emerged from the opening session of the Expert Group Meeting on Asian Partnership in Financing SDGs organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Southern Voice (SV) in partnership with the UN Millennium Campaign at Brac Centre Inn, Dhaka on 16 May 2015.

Following welcome remarks from CPD Executive Director Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Chair and Moderator of the session, Mr Sering Falu Njie, Deputy Director, Policy, UN Millennium Campaign, anticipated that the EGM would come up with viable suggestions for financing the development agenda which would feed the upcoming third conference on Financing for Development (FfD) to be held in Addis Ababa in July 2015.

In the keynote presentation, Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Chair, Southern Voice and Distinguished Fellow, CPD examined aspects of the financing for development initiative in the Asian context, focusing on South and South-East Asian countries between 2000 and 2013.

He recommended developing a regional monitoring mechanism and an accountability framework to track progress of the SDGs and harmonise the ongoing efforts in financing for development.

Guest of Honour H E Mr Lee Yun-young, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Bangladesh shared the Korean experience of increasing domestic resource mobilisation and self-reliance in the post-war period.

Mr Robert Watkins, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh addressing as the Special Guest and Mr A H M Mustafa Kamal, MP, Hon’ble Minister for Planning, Government of Bangladesh addressed as the Chief Guest. They emphasised developing domestic human resource, generate employment and enhance intra-regional trade and regional cooperation.

Among other Discussants, Mr Arastoo Khan, Member, Physical Infrastructure Division, Planning Commission observed that the government has favoured increasing private sector investment and the reliance for financing is shifting from ODA to domestic revenue mobilisation.

Audience-Asian-Partnership-in-Financing-SDGs

According to Dr Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), domestic private investment, FDI would play the most crucial role for financing development. He also observed that contexts in developing countries have changed and it is much harder to make them accept things they do not necessarily find relevant to their interests.

Another Discussant, Mr Salman Zaidi, Poverty Global Practice Manager, East Asia and Pacific Region, The World Bank noted that ways for backing the SDGs in country context should include crowding finance from private sector, putting focus on PPPs, investing in data etc.

Dr Simrit Kaur, Professor of Public Policy at University of Delhi noted that South Asians are high on savings and ways should be explored to mobilise the savings for financing.

Mr Asif Ibrahim, Former President, DCCI, urged to scale up public finances and a change in mindset to invest in green businesses. Bangladesh needs access to green funds at a very affordable rate, he added.

Ms Argentina Matavel Piccin, Country Representative, UNFPA felt that financing should be people-centric and the focus should be on its utilisation. She emphasised investment in youth, women and health and human resource.

The floor discussion was also addressed by H E Mr Johan Frisell, Ambassador, Embassy of Sweden; Mr M Syeduzzaman, Former Finance Minister; Dr Milindo Chakrabarti, Visiting Fellow, RIS, New Delhi; Ms Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo, Manager, IBON International, Philippines; Ms Hagar Russ, Child Rights Governance Director, Save the Children; Muhammad Alkama Siddiqui, Additional Secretary, Economic Relations Division; among others.

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