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41st SAARCFINANCE Governors’ Group Meeting and SAARCFINANCE Governors’ Symposium

Shri Shaktikanta Das, Governor, Reserve Bank of India chaired the 41st Meeting of the SAARCFINANCE Governors’ Group in virtual format on March 1, 2021. In his opening remarks, Governor Shri Das expressed optimism about the overall COVID-19 situation following the roll-out of the vaccines and complimented all the SAARC central banks for their efforts in combating the pandemic. He led the discussions on progress made under the SAARCFINANCE initiatives, achieved with the all-round cooperation of the SAARC central banks and launched the maiden issue of the annual SAARCFINANCE e-Newsletter. While the Governors agreed that the pandemic had an adverse impact on their economies, they recognized the importance of leveraging technology to spur growth.

The meeting was attended by the Governors from other SAARC central banks – Mr. Ajmal Ahmadi, Da Afghanistan Bank; Mr. Fazle Kabir, Bangladesh Bank; Mr. Dasho Penjore, Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan; Mr. Ali Hashim, Maldives Monetary Authority; Mr. Maha Prasad Adhikari, Nepal Rastra Bank; Dr. Reza Baqir, State Bank of Pakistan; and Prof. W. D. Lakshman, Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

With the RBI’s tenure coming to a close, Governor Shri Das handed over the SAARCFINANCE Chair (effective from April 01, 2021) to the Governor, Maldives Monetary Authority and assured him of the Reserve Bank’s continued commitment to the SAARCFINANCE initiative.

The SAARCFINANCE Governors’ Symposium was inaugurated by Shri Das on March 02, 2021. He emphasized the importance of effective, creative and prudent use of technology by central bankers, especially in the areas of Big Data, Digital Currencies, Reg-Tech, Sup-Tech and cyber security. The Keynote Address was delivered by Mr. Jermy Prenio, Senior Adviser, Financial Stability Institute, BIS on the topic ‘Suptech use in central banks’. The Symposium also included a Panel Discussion on ‘Cyber Security in Central Banks’ and a presentation by the researchers of the SAARCFINANCE Collaborative Study on ‘Comparison of Financial Sector Regulatory Regimes in the SAARC Region’.

SAARCFINANCE is a network of central bank governors and finance secretaries of the SAARC region. The Reserve Bank of India is the present chair of the SAARCFINANCE from October 2019 to March 2021.

Seminar and Meeting Photos

Governor, Reserve Bank of India inaugurates the SAARCFINANCE Sync Portal

The Reserve Bank of India Governor, Shri Shaktikanta Das, inaugurated the SAARCFINANCE Sync, a portal for SAARC central banks on November 04, 2020, in the presence of the SAARC central bank Governors. The SAARCFINANCE Sync is a closed group communication channel for SAARC central banks. It will track various initiatives under the SAARCFINANCE stream and will act as a repository of documents and information.

The Governor in his inaugural remarks stated that the SAARCFINANCE Sync is more than just a communication portal – it is a tool to deepen ties between central banks by fostering collaboration and capacity building, encouraging research and innovation, and providing real-time economic intelligence. This vision is reflected in the logo which symbolizes the collective learning around our core public service values. The portal was launched by the Reserve Bank as one of the deliverables under its SAARCFINANCE Chairmanship.

The portal will give updated information on initiatives like SAARCFINANCE Roadmap, swap framework, capacity building, database, scholarships, macroeconomic surveillance, collaborative studies, seminars, e-Newsletter etc. The Governors’ and Coordinators’ meeting documents and records will be available here. The logistic support and conduct of the events, seminars, symposiums and meetings will be coordinated through the portal. The research section will enable researchers of collaborative studies to share documents and data and it will also have provision for chat facility which will act as a discussion forum. It contains a media gallery as well as a document repository section that will build the archives of SAARCFINANCE.

The Governor also announced the two new initiatives operationalised by the Reserve Bank under its chair, viz., the Financial Inclusion Platform and the Directory of Retired Resource Persons. The Financial Inclusion Platform is a repository of initiatives taken by the SAARC central banks to promote financial inclusion and financial literacy. The strategy papers, policy documents, financial literacy material, SOPs of conducting outreach programs, research papers, etc. would be accessible to the officers of the operational departments of SAARC central banks. This will help facilitate policymakers through shared experiences and initiatives.

In order to tap the expertise of the retired SAARC central banks officers, the Reserve Bank has built the Directory of the Retired Resource to provide consultancy support to SAARC central banks. Presently, the experts have been identified for 15 areas which include monetary policy, banking and nonbank supervision and regulation, payment systems, IT, internal audits, currency management, macroeconomic and microeconomic research, etc. The areas and experts will be updated by the SAARC central banks in the directory every year.

Dr. Mohua Roy, Adviser, International Department gave a presentation explaining the key functionalities of the portal. The portal was appreciated by the Governors of all the SAARC central banks.

The Governor Reserve Bank congratulated the International Department of the Reserve Bank who conceptualised the portal, along with Reserve Bank Information Technology Pvt Ltd (ReBIT) and Indian Financial Technology and Allied Services (IFTAS) who helped in operationalizing the portal, while working under challenging conditions during the pandemic.

Seminar and Meeting Photos

40th SAARCFINANCE Governors’ Group Meeting

Reserve Bank of India organized the 40th SAARCFINANCE Governors’ Group Meeting on November 04, 2020 through virtual platform. The meeting was chaired by Shri Shaktikanta Das, Governor, Reserve Bank of India and attended by the Governors from SAARC central banks - Mr. Fazle Kabir, Bangladesh Bank; Mr. Dasho Penjore, Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan; Mr. Ali Hashim, Maldives Monetary Authority; Mr. Maha Prasad Adhikari, Nepal Rastra Bank; Dr. Reza Baqir, State Bank of Pakistan; and Prof. W. D. Lakshman, Central Bank of Sri Lanka. Governor, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) was represented by a senior official of DAB.

The Governor, in his opening remarks, reaffirmed India’s support to fighting Covid pandemic and its effects on lives and livelihood in the SAARC region. He mentioned the SAARC Covid-19 Fund and the SAARC Swap facility in this regard. He talked about the deliverables fulfilled by the Reserve Bank as the Chair, including the revised Framework on Currency Swap Arrangement for SAARC Countries, SAARC scholarship scheme and also inaugurated three new initiatives – (i) The SAARCFINANCE Sync – a closed user group secure communication network (ii) Financial Inclusion Platform – a repository of all financial inclusion related activities of member central banks and (iii) Directory of Retired Resource Persons – a directory of specialized retired officers in 15 different functional areas like monetary policy, banking and non-banking regulation and supervision, payment systems, macro and micro economic research, and so on.

This was followed by a discussion by all Governors on the prevailing macroeconomic situation in their respective countries and an update on how the pandemic has affected each country and the policy measures adopted by the central banks and national authorities to counter it. The Governors also deliberated on the other roadmaps under the SF initiative including collaborative studies, capacity building, SAARCFINANCE database, amongst others.

Dr. Michael D. Patra, Deputy Governor, RBI closed the session. In his closing remarks, he highlighted the role played by central banks in formulating policies that are inclusive, equitable and sustainable and also lauded the relentless efforts of all the SAARC central banks who continue to carry forward all initiatives and work collectively to emerge stronger together.

SAARCFINANCE is a network of central bank governors and finance secretaries of the SAARC region. The Reserve Bank of India is the current chair of SAARCFINANCE.

Seminar and Meeting Photos

RBI-RMAB Swap Agreement Meeting

The Reserve Bank of India signed a SAARC Currency Swap Agreement - under a revised Framework - with the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan (RMAB) at New Delhi on January 31, 2020. The agreement was jointly signed by Shri. M Rajeshwar Rao, Executive Director, RBI, and Ms. Yangchen Tshogyel, Deputy Governor, RMAB.

It may be recalled that a revised Currency Swap Framework for 2019-22 was put in place by the RBI in November 2019, with the concurrence of the Government of India, with an overall corpus of US $ two billion. Based on the terms and conditions of the Framework, the RBI would enter into bilateral swap agreements with SAARC central banks, who want to avail swap facility. Drawals can be made in US Dollar, Euro or Indian Rupee. The Framework provides certain concessions for swap drawals in Indian Rupee.

Seminar and Meeting Photos

SAARCFINANCE Governors’ Meetings

The SAARFINANCE Governors meet twice a year concurrently with the IMF/ WB Annual and Spring Meetings. Accordingly, the 20th SAARCFINANCE Governors' Meeting was held on 05 October 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey under the Chair of Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

H.E Governor Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, Governor, Da Afghanistan Bank, Dr. Atiur Rahman, Governor, Bangladesh Bank, Mr. Daw Tenzin, Managing Director, RMA and Ms. Sonam Dema, Officer In-charge, Management Secretariat Unit, and SAARCFINANCE Coordinator (RMA), Dr. D. Subbarao, Governor, RBI and Shri Deepak Mohanty, Executive Director, RBI, Hon. Fazeel Najeeb, Governor of MMA and Ms. Neeza Imad, Executive Director, Human Resource Division of MMA, Mr. Bijaya Nath Bhattarai, Governor, NRB and Mr. Trilochan Pageni, Executive Director NRB, Mr. Syed Salim Raza, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan attended the meeting.

Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor, CBSL chaired the 20th SAARCFINANCE Governors' Meeting held on 05 October 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey. Dr. P N Weerasinghe, Assistant Governor, CBSL accompanied the Governor.

Certain important decisions taken at the 20th SAARCFINANCE Governors' Meeting with regard to the SAARCFINANCE Web Folder and the Staff Exchange Policy were:

  1. SAARCFINANCE Web Folder: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to host the SAARCFINANCE Website
  2. SAARCFINANCE Staff Exchange: Governors agreed with the terms of the template of Staff Exchange subject to the following amendments:
    1. The RBI would continue with their current liberal policy of providing all facilities free of charge to the participating Bank.
    2. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) would be pleased to continue with its policy of bearing the entire cost of local hospitalities for SAARCFINANCE activities in Pakistan, including the Staff Exchange Programmes.
    3. CBSL, with its newly built facilities would accommodate 200 room nights per year free of charge for the purpose of Staff Exchange.

The SAARCFINANCE Governors meet twice a year concurrently with the IMF/WB annual and spring meetings. Since its inception, seventeen SAARCFINANCE Governors’ meetings were held till now.

The 17th SAARCFINANCE Governors’ meeting was held on the sidelines of the Fund-Bank Spring Meeting at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C on April 12, 2008. Dr. Y. V. Reddy, Governor, Reserve Bank of India and the Chair, SAARCFINANCE presided over the meeting. In addition, Dr. Arvind Virmani, Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Mr. Madhusudan Prasad, Joint Secretary, Fund-Bank, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Dr. R.K.Pattnaik, Adviser, Reserve Bank of India and SAARCFINANCE Co-ordinator (India), Dr. Partha Ray, Adviser, ED (India), IMF and Mr. K. Damodaran, EA to Governor, RBI also attended the Meeting.  Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Dr. (Mrs.) Ranee Jayamaha. Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Mr. K .G. D. D. Dheerasinghe, Alternative Executive Director, IMF and Dr. P. N. Weerasingha, Director, Economic Research/Chief Economist of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka also attended the meeting.

Other countries?

Major decisions that were taken during the 17th SAARCFINANCE Governors’ meeting were –

Reconfirmation by the Secretariat from Bangladesh regarding seminar on Corporate Governance in Banks and Financial Institutions in SAARC Countries.

Confirmation from Pakistan by the Secretariat on the areas of further collaboration and assistance under Staff Exchange Programme.

Secretariat would collect the research study on Trade in South Asian Region from Pakistan and circulate to members.

Secretariat to circulate the resolutions passed in the meeting regarding the suo moto participation of the SAARC member countries in the training programmes of any other member country; and the utilisation of the Training Centre at Sri Lanka for conducting joint programmes.

Secretariat to prepare a questionnaire in consultation with the members to include qualitative aspects of the credit information bureau.

Sri Lanka to confirm to the Secretariat the modalities of seminar on foreign exchange reserve management.

 

SAARCFINANCE Co-ordinators' Meetings

The 9th SAARCFINANCE Co-ordinators’ Meeting was organized by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Mumbai on February 12, 2008. All Co-ordinators excepting that of Pakistan participated in the meeting.

Major decisions that were taken during the 9th SAARCFINANCE Co-ordinators’ meeting were –

Research Projects/Symposia planned to be undertaken during 2008 and 2009 should be forwarded to the Secretariat by end February 2008;

Member country may request India or other member countries for technical assistance as part of SAARCFINANCE’s effort to share knowledge with one another;

All countries should forward their training programmes to the Secretariat by end-February 2008 for circulation so that member countries could take advantage of them.  Those training programmes should also be hosted in the SAARCFINANCE Web folder;

Training on other issues such as banking regulation, payment system, etc., may be requested to the member country concerned;

Central Bank of Sri Lanka to prepare a scheme of operationalisation of ‘Centre for Banking Studies’ providing various options of its financing for circulation;

RBI to prepare a draft on common website on SAARCFINANCE activities  taking into account of IMF’s GDDS for circulation amongst member countries;

Central Bank of Sri Lanka to present the paper on the proposal of Regional Payments Council to the SAARC Governors’ meeting in Washington in April 2008;

Member countries should give their respective position with regard to South Asia Credit Bureau indicating objectives, institutional set up and legal structure to the Secretariat for consolidation; the proposal may be placed in the SAARC Governors’ meeting in April 2008. SAARC Payment Council (SPC) Meeting

 

Mrs. Aishath Zahira Latheef, Senior Executive Director of the MMA attended the ‘2nd Meeting of the SAARC Payments Council’ held in Hyderabad, India on June 30, 2008.