Finance ministers of SAARC to meet

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Finance ministers of the eight SAARC nations will be attending a conference due to be held in Thimphu from August 24.

The conference will draw guidelines for the recently operationalised SAARC Development Fund (SDF), discuss implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) and regional connectivity projects, among others.

Another major item on the agenda is finalising the basic guidelines of the SDF and its funding modalities. The issue of increasing the current size of the SDF capital of US$ 300 million will also de discussed.

So far, only India and Bhutan have contributed to the SDF. India has chipped in another US$ 100 million as a voluntary contribution for social development programs.

The SDF was launched at the 16th SAARC summit back in April with the aim of assisting social, economic and infrastructure growth of the member nations. Currently, the only social window of the SDF is in operation with projects like poverty alleviation and child and maternity health. The conference will also discuss financial issues related to the road-map of the SAARC Economic Union and regional capital market.

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