SAARC to discuss blocking terrorist funding

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New Delhi, Sep 15 (UNI) A working group of SAARC Finance Seretaries will meet at the end of this month to consider ways to counter terror- funding in the region.

The eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation(SAARC) aims to develop a mechanism that will help governments curb terrorist attacks by curbing the flow of funds to such groups, Mr Vinod Rai, Secretary (Financial Sector), Ministry of Finance, told Reporters here.

SAARC, which includes India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka--the countries most affected by terrorism, plans greater co-operation in the field to stop the flow of monies to terrorist outfits.

The Finance Ministers and Finance Secretaries of the member nations, who met here decided to promote co-operation to develop and deepen the capital markets in the region, operationalise the SAARC Development Fund(SDF) at the earliest and co-operate for establishing a customs union.

The 300 million dollar SDF seeks to improve maternal and child health, empower women and provide a thrust to education in South Asia.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram laid stress on achieving financial inclusion to improve the lives of 1.47 billion people in the region, a third of whom live on income of less than a dollar a day.

"The meeting of SAARC Finance Secretaries discussed the issue yesterday. The working group will meet on September 24 or 26 to suggest concrete ways to counter terror funding," Mr Rai said.

However, SAARC Finance Ministers did not discuss the issue of terror funding, Mr Chidambaram said.

Mr Chidambaram told Reporters that the inter-Governmental Expert Group on Financial Issues has been mandated to develop the roadmap for the SDF, the South Asian Economic Union and the South Asian Cusotms Union in a gradual and phased manner.

India hosted the Second Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers here today. Mr Chidambaram was elected as the Chairperson of the meeting. Mr Chdambaram said the Ministers of the SAARC Member Countries reviewed the progress made in SAARC since the first meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers held in Islamabad in July 2006.

RBI Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan presented the report of the 'SAARC Finance' for consideration of the Ministers.

'SAARC Finance' is a regional network of SAARC Central Bank Governors and Finance Secretaries that work towards harmonisation of banking legislation and practices within the region and strive for higher monetary and exchange cooperation.

Mr Chidambaram said India, as the current Chairman of SAARC, took a lead role in offering training programmes for the SAARC countries and identifying new areas of cooperation like Financial inclusion.

India also offered to provide relevant capacity building support for the development of capital markets in the region at the National Institute of Securities Market.

The Maldives offered to host the Third Meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers in Male in early 2009.

The meeting was attended by the folowing Heads of Delegation: Dr.

Anwar ul Haq Ahady, Minister of Finance of Afghanistan; Dr. A.B.

Mirza Azizul Islam, Adviser Ministry of Finance and Planning, Bangladesh; Mr Lyonpo Leki Dorji, Minister for Information and Communications, Bhutan; Mr. Mohamed Ahmed, Financial Controller, Ministry of Finance, Maldives; Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Minister of Finance, Nepal; Dr. Salman Shah, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs and Statistics, Pakistan; Dr.

Sarath Amunugama, Minister of Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion, Sri Lanka and Mr. Chenkyab Dorji, Secretary General, SAARC Secretariat.

UNI

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