Faster implementation of projects is a key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Asian Development Bank Country Director Manmohan Parkash said yesterday.
“If we want higher achievements, we need higher capacity.”
Financing will be simplified and access to finance will be enhanced if projects are implemented faster in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
Parkash was speaking at a session on “Inclusive financing for SDGs in Asia and the Pacific” on the second day of the Asia-Pacific Conference on Financing for Inclusive and Sustainable Development at InterContinental Dhaka. Planning Minister MA Mannan moderated the session.
The Asia and the Pacific region is an evolving development story accounting for 60 percent of the human population and 35 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
Today the region accounts for over 60 percent of global growth but still has 1.4 billion people living on less than $2 per day.
According to an UN estimate, the financing gap to achieve the SDGs is $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion per year in developing countries alone.
“However, financing is probably not the problem, the main challenge is to mobilise and regulate the financing to achieve the targets, and to sustain the results.”
Investments for SDGs are not for the sake of investments only. It also makes economic sense, he said.
An estimate shows that achieving the SDGs could open up $12 trillion of market opportunities; create 380 million new jobs; and action on climate change would result in savings of about $26 trillion by 2030, Parkash said.
The first action needed is to improve domestic resource mobilisation. Extensive reforms are needed to modernise the revenue systems. Simplification of revenue collection systems and procedures is critical, he said.
UN-Escap estimated that the developing Asia-Pacific countries should invest an additional $1.5 trillion per year, or 5 percent of their combined GDP, to achieve the SDGs by 2030. “Today, ambition is the only option in our region,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-Escap).
“It will be necessary to modernise tax systems and improve the efficiency of tax administrations. The increasing importance of new business models and excessive tax competition across countries and tax evasion by multilateral corporations are also causing losses to developing countries’ tax administrations.”
“To address these are common challenges, we need to significantly strengthen regional dialogues and cooperation on tax matters, as they have a direct bearing on the fiscal space to deliver on the 2030 Agenda,” she added.
She said to support countries’ capacities on infrastructure financing, UN-Escap has established the Infrastructure Financing and Public Private Partnership Network of Asia and the Pacific.
Capital markets and green bonds can help mobilise additional private financing for sustainable infrastructure projects, she noted.
“Third, let us enhance financial inclusion and financial technology, and other innovative financing mechanisms,” said Alisjahbana.
AB Mirza Azizul Islam, former adviser to a caretaker government, stressed on the need for taking policy action to enhance progress incorporating inclusive financing with SDGs.
Easy and access to bank accounts and cheap credit for poor, small and micro enterprises are related to poverty alleviation, he said.
The government has taken the SDG achievement target seriously and regional, multi-level cooperation are needed to achieve sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific, said Mannan while moderating the session.
Bun Chanthy, vice minister of the commerce ministry of Cambodia, highlighted the growth target of the country and said Cambodia was working to be high middle income country in 2030 and high income country by 2050.
The policy platform supports pro employment, equity, economic diversification, private sector development, modernisation of SMEs and new enterprise development, digital economy and industrial revolution, the Cambodian minister said.
Puspa Raj Kadel, vice chairman of the National Planning Commission of Nepal, and Mohammad Ali Taslim, former chairman of Bangladesh Tariff Commission, also spoke.
-With The Daily Star input