UNDP urged to assist in increasing regional connectivity in South Asia

16 Apr 2013

imageHon’ble Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission and Mr. Terence D. Jones, UNDP Resident Representative, a.i. jointly launch the HDR 2013. Photo: UNDP Nepal

Kathmandu—Panelists speaking at the national launch of Global Human Development Report 2013 in Kathmandu today called on UNDP to work on pushing for more regional connectivity in South Asia so that the prosperity in the South can trickle down from rapidly developing countries to weaker economies in the region.

“I would also like to urge UNDP to take interest in issues of regional cooperation and increasing border connectivity,” said Dr. Nishchal N. Pandey, Director of Centre for South Asian Studies, a Kathmandu-based regional think-tank. We must also lobby with our neighbors to focus on bordering areas so that common Nepalese can benefit from the rise of India and China, he said.

“Nepal can play a lead role in regional integration. Nepal is the founding member of SAARC, its secretariat is in Kathmandu, we can show the dynamism to actively push for its faster integration, ultimately leading to a South Asian Economic Union,” Dr. Pandey said.

If the non-tariff barriers were removed, the cost of business in South Asia will lessen by as much as 27 percent—increasing the intra-regional trade from 5 percent at present to 15 percent in five to seven years, said Dr. Basudeb Guha- Khasnobis, Economics Advisor, UNDP, citing a recent study. Dr. Guha- Khasnobis presented the main findings of the HDR.

President of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries, umbrella organization of Nepali businesses, Mr. Suraj Vaidya said that the private sector is keen to work with the government to usher in new era of prosperity. There is no shortage of money in Nepal, said Mr. Vaidya. There is a long list of willing foreign investors, beside the money flowing through the economy from the remittances, but we haven’t been able to cash on it, he said.

“What’s funny is that we have the people with the money and we have an attractive investment sector, but political instability has been impeding this being translated into a reality,” he said.

Commending UNDP on putting together a very insightful Report on the rise of the South, panelists urged the Government of Nepal to internalize the policy recommendation offered in the Report.

The Human Development Report 2013 identifies three major drivers of the transformation seen in the South: the role of a Proactive Developmental State, tapping into Global Markets, and Determined Social Policy innovation.

“I am convinced that the policy agenda put forward in this HDR on the Global South has much relevance to the policy issues confronting Nepali decision makers,” said Mr. Terence Jones, Resident Representative of UNDP a.i. introducing the Report.

Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission Mr. Deependra Bahadur Kshetry expressed the government’s commitment to do more to create a robust economy and said that the new three-year plan will factor in lessons learned so far.

Ms. Pramila Acharya Rijal, Chairperson, SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council called for greater involvement of women representatives from the civil society in regional forums urging the governments in the region to develop a regional policy on women migrant workers to protect their rights.

The Report analyses more than 40 developing countries that have made striking human development gains in recent years. It attributes their achievements to some strong national commitments: better public health and education services, innovative poverty eradication programmes and strategic engagement with the world economy.

By 2030, more than 80 percent of the world’s middle class will live in the South and account for 70 percent of total consumption expenditure. The Asia-Pacific region alone will host about two-thirds of that middle class. The combined economic output by 2020 of three leading developing countries alone—Brazil, China and India—will surpass the aggregate production of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Report was launched globally by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City on March 14.