Nepal to benefit from SAARC Development Fund

Kathmandu, December 14

The SAARC Development Fund (SDF) was established by the heads of the eight SAARC member states in April 2010 as an umbrella financial institution for SAARC projects and programmes in the SAARC region. It works for promoting the welfare of the people of SAARC region, improving their quality of life, and accelerating economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in South Asia.

Sunil Motiwal, chief executive officer of SDF, recently met Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada and Shree Krishna Nepal, joint secretary, International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division, Ministry of Finance, where he informed that SDF has recently accorded in-principle approval to three important infrastructure projects in the energy sector in Nepal.

As per Motiwal, these projects have cross-border connectivity to neighbouring SAARC member states involving participation of Bangladesh and India. The cumulative loan commitment under the three projects would be $45 million. These are being extended under both sovereign and non-sovereign lending in Nepal. Motiwal expressed confidence that these projects would help SDF to achieve its development goals in Nepal and promote welfare and prosperity of the people in the SAARC region.

CEO Motiwal also informed that apart from these three in-principle approved projects, SDF is considering two additional infrastructure projects under active consideration to co-finance in Nepal with fund commitment of $30 million.

Further SDF is launching its Social Enterprise Development Programme (SEDP) as part of its Social Window. The programme will be implemented in all the SAARC member states with the objective of identifying and building social enterprises by using a mix of grants and concessional returnable capital. It is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2019 in Nepal. SDF has also proposed to launch its MSME programme in order to upgrade Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the SAARC region by providing line of credit. SDF will create access to

financial services which can in turn boost job creation, raise income, reduce vulnerability and increase investments in human capital in SAARC member nations.

Motiwal emphasised upon the fact that Nepal has long been in a situation of low investment and low growth. Despite this the government of Nepal has set ambitious development targets — to graduate from least developed country status by 2022, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and to emerge as an inclusive, equitable, and prosperous middle-income country by 2030 — and SDF would like to partner with the government in achieving these objectives, he added.