The seventh Meeting of the Finance Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) kicked off here Thursday.
Inaugurating the meeting, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala stressed on wider cooperation among the SAARC Member States for peace, stability and development in the region.
Stating, Nepal, as a chair, has been working closely with all SAARC member states for the execution of the decisions contained in the Kathmandu Declaration 2014, Koirala said South Asia is a region of tremendous opportunities endowed with both human and natural resources and that collective political will and joint efforts could make a difference in changing the development landscape of this region.
“Close economic cooperation is required for lasting peace and prosperity”, the Prime Minister said, “We believe that the vision of South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) remains relevant and can be achieved in a phased manner within a reasonable period of time with an inbuilt provision for sharing benefits equitably among its participants,”.
Underpinning the requirement for increased interaction, dialog, and coordinated effort in the SAARC region, PM Koirala stated that there should be substantial cooperation and investment in connectivity and other core economic areas to change the region into a highly integrated one from its current status of the least integrated one.
“Connectivity in forms of physical infrastructures, energy and knowledge connectivity can catalyze meaningful cooperation in trade, tourism, investment, finance, and energy, among others, which are the key components of a deeper integration. By creating opportunities for seamless connectivity, we can maximize gains from trade and commerce and herald a new dawn in economic security for the region.”
Connectivity will give a real substance and add value to South Asia’s geographical contiguity, which is yet another vital enabling factor, he added.
He stated that deepening economic integration can give the region economic and social security only if the member states strengthened commitments and joint efforts and vigilance to fight against terrorism, growing extremism, trafficking in persons, drugs and arms, money laundering and other challenges like natural calamities and public health that have transnational dimensions.
“SAARC Finance Ministers Meeting is an important mechanism within the SAARC framework that can be effectively utilized to foster deeper economic integration in line with changing economic realities in the world. I am confident that this meeting will be able to take concrete decisions to advance the SAARC process forward in the spirit of the 18th SAARC Summit- Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity. I thank the commendable job done by the SAARC Finance Secretaries as preparation for this meeting,” the PM said.
Stating that Asia-Pacific region has emerged as an engine of global growth and the world was watching with interest the power and promise of South Asian potentials, PM Koirala noted united in peaceful cooperation, the region can work to translate the liberal environment into lasting peace, stability, and building strong democratic institutions to promote trust in the region.
Govt decides to award Budhi Gandaki Hydel project to Chinese firm again
KATHMANDU — The government has decided to award contract for the construction of the 1,200-megawatt Budhigandaki hydropower project, a national pride project, to China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) once again.
A Cabinet meeting on Friday has decided to award the contract for the project to CGGCL reverting the erstwhile Sher Bahadur Deuba government’s decision to develop the 1200MW project with internal resources.
The Cabinet meeting has directed the Energy Ministry to initiate the process to award the project to the Chinese company.
Following the government decision, the Energy Ministry will now invite the Chinese company for talks and prepare a draft of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) before signing it, according to multiple sources at the ministry.
As per the Cabinet decision, the ministry has been asked to hold talks with the Gezhouba, prepare a proposal, and strike a deal to execute the $2.5 billion reservoir project.
Earlier on May 15, 2017, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government had awarded the contract to construct the Budhigandaki project to CGGCL, juat nine days before he was to resign from the PM’s post.
The Dahal-led government had awarded the contract to CGGCL at a cost of Rs 260 billion as per a study carried out by a French company, Tractebel Engineering.
The agreement, however, invited controversy as the project was handed to the Chinese company without initiating a competitive bidding process.
The Budhi Gandaki hydel project has been touted as a key project to resolve the perennial power crisis in the country. The government has allocated Rs18 billion for compensation payments and operational expenses for this fiscal year.
The Gorkha and Dhading district administration offices are currently distributing compensation to owners of the land taken over by the project.
More than 8,000 households will be affected by the project, according to the latest report.Follow @gorkhapost