Nepal seeks to host Saarc Bank HQ

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Aug 5, 2014-

Nepal has expressed its desire to host the headquarters of the Saarc Bank proposed by India during the eighth meeting of the South Asia Free Trade Area (Safta) Ministerial Council held on July 23-24 in Thimphu.

The Nepali side made the offer on Monday during a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the CPN-UML top leadership at Hyatt Regency in Kathmandu.

Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, who accompanied the UML leaders, presented Nepal’s bid, which the Indian PM is learned to have responded to positively.

“I expressed our desire to host the bank with the Indian PM. He agreed to it immediately,” Pandey told the Post.

“Once we receive India’s official consent, we will request other member states for their consent,” said Pandey. “We have initiated informal talks with the members.”

Saarc member states are positive about the Indian proposal though India has not decided its formal position on the bank. The type of the bank, its funding modality and objectives remain unclear.

The forthcoming meeting of the Saarc finance ministers will discuss the bank’s modality, which will be tabled in the Saarc Summit, according to an official at the Saarc Secretariat.

The bank is expected to finance infrastructure development in the region. Officials could not confirm whether the existing Saarc Development Fund would be upgraded to a bank or a new one will be set up. SDF has social, economic and infrastructure windows where all the member states contribute agreed sums. Only the social window is functional.

Officials say the formation of another bank is good for a country like Nepal which has poor or no infrastructure and faces a huge resource gap to fund development projects.

Published: 06-08-2014 08:47

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