Economy has to be the most important agenda for the Saarc nations despite political challenges and compulsions, businesses leaders said here at Saarc CII Conclave today. “Economic agenda has to be the foremost important agenda for the political parties (in the region). Unfortunately in our region it is not the top priority, somehow due to all ours thought process. “Thrusting the economic agenda foremost should be all ours guiding force for our relationships. Our political agendas are never ending. We really need to come out of this and see how economic agendas can be prioritised,” said Shekhar Golcha Senior Vice President, FNCCI (Nepal) on the concluding day of three-day Saarc Business Leaders Conclave here. Shobana Kamineni, President CII (India), said the Saarc region will continue to grow for another 25 years with 30-35 per cent of its population as young with India alone nearly 60 per cent of the people under the age of 35 years, so it is imperative that they stay healthy and eligible for jobs. To give jobs to millions and millions people is the most fundamental thing that the industry and governments must understand, she noted.
“We have the youngest people in the world. The Saarc region will continue to grow for another 20-25 years so we have to make sure that our youth are healthy people, people who are qualified to assume job not only for our countries but also for our region,” Kamineni said while speaking on ‘Turning Setbacks into Comebacks: Role of Private Sectors’ at the conclave. Stressing on the challenges related to education in the region, she said the private sector can play a key role in creating jobs in the region, skilling the educated to help them get jobs as well as healthcare, as only if the youth are healthy they can add value to the economy. Besides, tourism is also another important area that the Saarc nations can work together with, she said. The representative from FPCCI (Pakistan) said the private sector has all the power to find ways to make businesses happen despite political challenges. “We have undermined the power of private sector. We have been performing in the economic sector… We do have political differences but that has to be resolved through dialogue. “This region is rich in natural resources but nearly 40 per cent of our population are living below poverty line.
We as a private sector of Pakistan have been very vocal and told our government very clearly that the closing of borders every other month is not acceptable,” said Zubair Ahmed Malik, Executive Committee Member of Saarc CII and former President of FPCCI. BCCI (Bhutan) Secretary General Phub Tshering said the region has its own setbacks and stressed on the need of Saarc nations to come together to beat the challenges. “We only have about 5 per cent of the global trade happening in Saarc region, but population wise we are very big. It means there is some problem. Connectivity, integration and infrastructure are the issues of hindrance for growth,” Former President of Saarc CII Bhutan Dasho Ugen Tsechup Dorji said. The participants raised host of issues, including connectivity between people to people as well as for goods and services and called for a single integrated market force for the region that will help bolster the economic prospects when the world is seeing rising protectionism nowadays.