ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has stressed the need for South Asian countries to collaborate to revive the economies of the region which is forecast to see an economic contraction of 4.8 per cent this year due to the Covid pandemic.
The comments were made by Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena when he led the Sri Lankan delegation to a virtual informal meeting of the Council of Ministers of the countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation yesterday, September 24.
The annual event, which traditionally takes place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, was convened online due to the Covid 19 situation, a press release from the Foreign Ministry said.
Gunawardena pointed out “the importance of reviewing South Asia’s economic outlook, finding employment for the impacted workforce, revitalizing businesses, while increasing production,” the release said.
SAARC has the potential to become a catalyst in economic growth and prosperity. South Asia should expand cooperation in soft projects such as public health, poverty alleviation, agriculture, food security, environment, education and promotion of people to people contacts, he added.
The meeting was chaired by Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, facilitated by the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu. The newly-appointed Secretary-General of SAARC Esala Weerakoon also addressed the informal meeting. The Sri Lanka delegation comprised Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage and senior officials of the Ministry the press release said. (Colombo September 25, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana