of Council of Ministers of SAARC Countries Concluded
The two-day 23rd meeting of the council of ministers of South
Asian Association for regional cooperation (SAARC) concluded in
Kathmandu on August 22, 2002 highlighting the need to update the
SAARC convention on suppression of terrorism, signed by member
states in 1987.
SAARC foreign minister's meeting,
preparatory to the upcoming South Asian summit, had also given
high priority to issues pertaining to economy and trade in the
The ministers also gave clear directives
to hold the second meeting of committee of expert by the third
week of September and every month thereafter, so as to prepare
and finalise the draft of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)
treaty framework by the end of this year.
In this context, the 11th meeting
of council of ministers would be held in Kathmandu on October
26-27, conciding with the fourth SAARC trade fair.
The member states also gave high
priority to the issue pf poverty alleviation, laying emphasis
on the implementation of programmes earlier decided upon. "They
welcomed the fact that the next finance and planning ministers"
meeting, under the third tier mechanism on poverty alleviation,
would be held in Colombo.
The council also constituted an autonomous
advocacy group of women personalities. A SAARC award has also
been established, along the lines of a concept paper tabled by
Nepal, to honour the out standing work of individuals and organisations
of the region in the fields of peace, development, poverty alleviation
and regional cooperation.
to cut Indian GDP growth
Indian industry recently said a
withering drought was likely to shave up to one per centage point
off annual economic growth rate, bringing it down to between 5.0
and 5.4 percent in the financial year ending next March.
Prior to the drought, industry had
predicted the economy would grow by six percent, ending a sluggish
"With the delay in monsoons and the
declaration of drought in many states, growth of the overall economy
is likely to end up between 5.0 to 5.4 percent," the Confederation
of Indian Industry (CII) said, after a snap poll of business leaders.
The industry said its sales and profits
were likely to remain at between 10 and 20 percent during the
Thirteen of India's 29 states have
been declared drought-stricken, including the country's bread
basket northern states where many crops have been destroyed.
markets boom amid tensions
A spate of suicide bombings have
prompted foreigners and diplomats to flee Pakistan, but if the
country's stock exchange is anything to go by, investors are making
a killing on the "bad news".
Blood on the streets of Pakistan's
commercial capital of Karachi has not deterred the bulls going
berserk at the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) to make it one of
the world's best gainers since the September 11 attacs in the
Former KSE chairman Yasin Lakarni
said the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tracking funding
for terror groups since September 11, had alarmed even those with
legitimate savings abroad.
The FBI may have indirectly contributed
to the spectacular 58.4 percent gain in the KSE since September
with monkey pouring back into the country.
A flood of foreign capital, reversing
years of outward investment, has seen Pakistan's foreign reserve
soar to seven billion dollars from a modest 1.8 billion dollars
just before September 11.
gas reserves not enough for export
Bangladesh government constituted
committee ruled out exporting natural gas to India despite pressures
from profit-hungry western oil exploration companies.
M. Tamim said the national Committee
on Utilisation of natural Gas had, after initial differences,
"unanimously agreed" at a meeting that ended recently that Bangladesh
was not in a position to export gas with its current reserves.
"Limited gas exports may be considered
only once new gas fields are found," Tamim told AFP, dismissing
suggestions that exports would be considered once a government
plan to reopen previously unprofitable gas fields comes into effect.
Tamim, a teacher at the Bangladesh
University of Engineering and Technology, said that once new fields
are found it would be up to state regulator Petrobangla to decide
on exports, as the committee's remit was limited to investigation
the current situation.
The committee was set up soon after
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Islamist-allied government came to
office last year.
It is tasked with giving guidelines
to the government on the possibility of exporting the impoverished
South Asian country's major natural resource to neighbouring India
by means of a pipeline.
Lanka, Pakistan to sign trade deal
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf
was meeting with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
recently on his tour of the island nation, which a state-run newspaper
called "a visit of promise."
Their ministers were to sign agreements
to further ease barriers to trade between the two South Asian
Countries, which currently totals dlrs 130 million.
The trade deals were expected to
boost exports, which drive Sri Lanka's economy, but have been
hit hard by the 19 year separatist war with Tamil Tiger rebels.
prospects of economic recovery improved with a cease-fire agreement
in February between the government and the rebels, fighting for
an independent Tamil homeland in the island's north and east.
Lanka announces plans for economic relief
Sri Lankan Finance Minister K.N.
Choksy recently announced a series of populist relief measures,
including cutting the price of fuel and electricity, to ease the
cost of living. In a televised speech choksy said the move was
"a bold measure to bring down prices of a large variety of items
in daily use".
The cost of diesel, largely used
for transport purposes, was reduced by 8.0 percent, while petrol
prices were cut by 12 percent. "Our first objective is to reduce
prices, reduce the cost of living and make it easier for the wage
earner and the housewife to balance the monthly household budget,"
The cuts followed a speech by Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe recently in which he asked for patience
as he outlined his government's plans to lead the country towards
economic recovery. Rises in fuel and electricity prices have done
little for the popularity of Wickremesinghe's government which
came to power in December.