The seminar aimed at encouraging individual and institutional liberty in the economic sphere, leading to both human development and economic growth through enhanced economic cooperation amongst the member states of the SAARC. Economic freedom and development go hand in hand to help reduce poverty under a free economic order, which is much needed for the region of South Asia- one of the regions with poor economic freedom index.
Mr. Annisul Huq, President, SAARC CCI welcoming Hon’able Muhammad Farrukh Khan, Minister of
Commerce, Government of Bangladesh. Also seen in the picture are Mr. A K Azad, President
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FBCCI) & Mr. Abul Kashem Ahmed,
Vice President SAARC CCI (Bangladesh).
The seminar discussed various issues like role of Economic Freedom in Legal Structure, Safeguarding Intellectual Property Rights, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business Environment- country perspective.
Hon’able Muhammad Farrukh Khan, Minister of Commerce in his inaugural address said that political freedom was a pre requisite for exploiting economic potential of South Asia in true perspective. Further, promotion of economic freedom in the region also required involvement of stake holders in policy making process. He lamented that the politicians had failed to implement liberal policies in their respective countries. In his opinion, regional connectivity was essential for remodeling of policies in line with current Global economic scenario. The efforts for promoting economic freedom in South Asian countries are scarce; he stated and added that results in this regard were visible in terms of higher poverty rate, poor human development index, and more dependence on foreign aid. He firmly believed that SAARC needed inward looking policies to promote intra regional trends. Earlier, Mr. A. K Azad, President FBCCI in his welcome address, urged upon the governments of South Asian countries to remove NBT’s and promote regional connectivity through improved infrastructure and visa liberal regime. In this connection, he argued that issuance of only 100 SAARC Visa Stickers (SVES) for approximately 3.0 million medium and large sized businessmen were insignificant. He demanded for increase in SVES to 500 for each member countries.
Mr. Annisul Huq, President, SAARC CCI in his key note speech also emphasized for increase in SAARC Visa Exemption Stickers and demanded for futuristic policies to improve business environment in the region to unleash the true economic potential. So far as business community is concerned, it requires enabling environment to carry out business activities freely, he said and added that SAFTA was required to be implemented in true letter and spirit. In this regard, any inherent hidden fear, if at all there is any, of losing in competition with other member countries would have to be scrapped.
Mr. Tariq Sayeed, Immediate Past President, SAARC CCI, while sharing his remarks said that Governments of South Asian countries needed to take into consideration the changes being taken place around the globe. He identified political mindset as one of the biggest barriers in promoting economic freedom among member states of South Asia. He furnished statistical comparison establishing the fact that sluggish growth in intra regional trade was mainly because of stringent policies of governments of South Asian countries.
Mr. Subodh Kumar, FNF representative, enlightened the audience about role and functions of FNST in the promotion economic freedom in the world including South Asia under the partnership of SAARC CCI.
The meeting was conducted by Secretary General SAARC CCI, Mr. Iqbal Tabish, who presented an overview of the activities of SAARC CCI towards promoting intra regional economic cooperation.
Mr. Abul Kashim Ahmed, Vice President, SAARC CCI (Bangladesh) offered vote of thanks. The conference was well attended by representatives of business community from Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and host country Bangladesh.
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