Prime Minister visits SAARC Development Fund to discuss strengthening of collaboration and explore investment opportunities
Thimphu Bhutan, 30 July 2019 – His Excellency the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering, visited the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) Secretariat to discuss strengthening of collaboration with SDF by exploring more investment opportunities.
SDF officials led by the Chief Executive Officer Dr Sunil Motiwal briefed His Excellency the Prime Minister on the current activities, achievements and future action plans of SDF. Lyonchhen was presented on the ongoing projects of SDF in Bhutan under its Social, Economic and Infrastructure Windows. An overview of the upcoming pipelines projects was also presented along with SDF’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) funding scheme in all SAARC Member States.
The SAARC Development Fund, since its inception in April 2010 by heads of the eight SAARC Member States, is mandated to build regional integration and economic cooperation through project funding in all the eight SAARC member states – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Secretariat is based in Thimphu Bhutan.
“It is an honour for us at SDF to welcome His Excellency the Prime Minister to our office to share the current status and achievements of SDF and the investment opportunities for Bhutan,” said CEO Dr Sunil Motiwal.
He added that Bhutan is one of the Member States that has derived maximum benefits from SDF’s various funding schemes. SDF has committed a total of USD 31.48 million for ongoing and future projects in Bhutan. Of the total, SDF has funded over 10 projects in Bhutan worth USD 8.48 million under its Social Window as grants, USD 13 million under the Economic Window for purchase of Druk Air ATR aircraft and allocated USD 10 million under Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) funding scheme of SDF.
Projects under the Social Window ranges from newborn and maternal health, women empowerment, violence against children, agriculture to setting up of community e-centres, supporting thousands of home-based workers and providing livelihood enhancement of small scale farmers. So far, 7 of the 10 projects have been successfully closed benefiting over thousands of children, women and men in Bhutan. Five more projects are under active consideration for co-financing along with UN and International Agencies.
During the meeting, Lyonchhen said that such meetings open the door for further discussion and collaboration. He said that he is keen to explore many priority areas of the government especially the agriculture-oriented Cottage and Small Industry (CSI). “I feel that agriculture is not fully explored to its full potential at the moment. About 58 percent of the Bhutanese are farmers and yet 3.6 percent of the employment is in the agriculture-related sector,” he said. “I can see many linkages including the CSI agriculture enterprises where Royal Government of Bhutan can work together with SDF.”
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Cabinet Secretary and officials from the Prime Minister’s Office.
SDF has an authorized capital of USD 1.5 Billion and total capital base of USD 511.52 Million. Currently SDF is implementing 12 projects under the Social window with fund commitment of USD 73.74 million and two more projects are approved in principle in social sector, 5 projects under the Economic and Infrastructure windows (including 2 in-principle approved projects) with a fund commitment of USD 73 million and MSME Program with fund allocation of USD 50 million in SAARC Member States. The cumulative fund commitment under the three funding windows including MSME Program stands at USD 197.4 million. Further, more than 10 bankable projects are also under active consideration of SDF to co-finance in SAARC Member States.