Conference Report of Plenary Sessions - 6th South Asia Economic Summit ‘Towards a Stronger, Dynamic, and Inclusive South

Asia’ Asia’
The 6th SAES held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 2 – 4 September 2013, was the 6th edition of the premier regional conference bringing together the leading researchers, policy advisors, government officials, civil society representatives and experts from multilateral institutions from the South Asian region and beyond. The theme of this year’s SAES was ‘Towards a Stronger, Dynamic, and Inclusive South Asia’. It discussed the key socio-economic challenges facing South Asia and how countries in the region can individually and collectively address them to put South Asia on a determined development path underpinned by inclusivity and sustainability. The anchor sessions of the 6th SAES were the four Plenary Sessions tackling what we had termed ‘The Big Four’ themes. Four of the SAES initiative’s founding institutions were tasked with developing anchor background papers to inform the discussions in each of these sessions.


report… … In this report
Section 1 provides a session-by-session overview of the proceedings in the Big Four plenaries. They include the key ideas put forward by the Chair, lead presenter and panelists. As this is the first draft of the report, a reader will find that each section may be written slightly differently as they were prepared by different groups of rapporteurs. In the final version, this will be rectified. Panelists were provided the papers in advance as well as a set of key question areas, on which to prepare their comments. They were also given a set of strong guiding principles to follow in the discussion in order to keep it lively, engaging and to generate fresh perspectives. Section 2 provides a snapshot of the extensive social media engagement that took place during the Summit, particularly during the Plenary sessions. The objective behind this was to generate a wider interest in South Asian socio-economic issues, draw in a different demographic than the usual, and also create more real-time engagement among those watching the Summit on live webcast as well as panelists and those in the audience.


Section 1 Plenary Session 1: ‘Harnessing Human Capital Potential in South Asia’ Asia’ (2 (2nd September) Harnessing human capital potential in South Asia was cited as a most timely and appropriate theme for South Asia in the present context by the chairperson of the session, Shekar Shah, the Director General of National Council of Applied Economic Research. The biggest challenge facing South Asia today is harnessing the amazing potentials of humans for economic growth. It can be referred to as a ticking ‘time bomb’. If we do not utilize the potentials of the todays’ youth cohort, in another few decades this group would become a ‘demographic disaster’ to the region. The lead presentation on “Demographic Change, Brain Drain and Human Capital: Development Potentials in Services Driven South- Asia” by Biswajit Dhar (RIS, India) covered the areas of South Asia’s economic transition, service sector led growth and employment, the human capital scenario and the critical issues of skilled migration and development potentials. Over the past two decades, economic growth in South Asia has been conditioned by its rapidly increasing service sector. At present, South Asia derives more than 55 % of its income from the service sector. The sector has grown at an impressive rate of over 7 % in the recent decades. With the exception of Pakistan, all the large economies in South Asia have been experiencing a growth in their service sectors. Except Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, other South Asian economies have had a similar demographic experience (decline in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), decline in Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and a decline in population growth). The working age population is expected to increase in significantly (except in Sri Lanka) in most of the South Asian countries and accordingly the dependency ratio is also expected to decline. Mismatch of the service sector’s high share in GDP and high growth rates across the countries with a low share of employment, low female participation in the labour force, limited data on female employment in services, lack of investment in the secondary and tertiary sectors (including vocational education) and lack of employment opportunities, which is compounded by the issue of ‘employability’ are the main challenges faced by South Asia in harnessing human capital potentials for economic growth.


Presently, more than 26 million people born in South Asian countries are living outside their countries of birth. Rate of migration and rate of skilled migration are higher for smaller countries. The pattern of emigration from South Asia has had an impact on the services trade from the region. The high rate of skilled migration in this region resulting in 24 % of its migrants being in developed countries contributes critically to Diaspora network formation. Apart from the direct monetary benefits through remittances, if fully utilized, the Diaspora network can be an effective as a source of knowledge/technology transfer and as an entrepreneurship developer.

Key Messages from the lead presentation:
• With appropriate policies for job creation and skill development, South Asia has a large potential in reaping the demographic dividend. • Falling dependency ratios present huge opportunities to the countries in South Asia for they can benefit from demographic dividend offered by the large young population who are getting into the working age group. • Changing composition of the GDP therefore necessitates imparting adequate skills to the young population so that they can be considered employable by the skill-intensive service sectors. 4

Education levels of the population are still at a much lower levels relative to those in the other regions. While all countries have realised the target of universalisation of primary education, they have made little progress in secondary and tertiary education. This has created the spectra of growing skill gaps, which can eventually deny the South Asian countries the benefits of demographic dividend.

Expert Panel Discussion:
Martin Rama, Rama, Chief Chief Economist for South Asia, The World Bank addressed the theme of harnessing the human capital potentials by highlighting facts form the 2013 World Development Report on Jobs. For Low income and low middle income countries, jobs are fundamental. The importance of education was emphasized as most of the members of the present young cohort who would enter the labour force in the near future are currently at school. Although vocational education and training is important in creating jobs for this group of young people, the experience with the vocational education and training in South Asia is not very compelling. Examples from the Bangladeshi garment industry have proven that jobs pool skills. Furthermore, work itself can be regarded as a substitute for formal education. And in this context, the best policy is to put people to work. It was further pointed out that most of the jobs in the service sector in South Asia are not productive jobs. Limitation in data availability on the informal sector remains an issue and addressing this issue is of utmost important as the microenterprises are the main job creator in low income and low middle income countries. The challenge is to make informal sector jobs more productive. The Indian experience in education sector was shared by Mahendar Lama, Lama, Economist and Vice Chancellor, Sikkim University. University. 82 % of the 18-23 age group in India have no access to higher education. The Gross Enrolment Ratio is 19 % at present. There is a target of increasing it up to 30 % by 2025. The density of higher education institutions is one of the lowest in the world. Two very significant gaps can be observed in the education sector in India today; namely, quality gap and quantity gap. Similar kind of trends can be seen in most of the countries in the region. Reorientation and refocusing of education policies in the region are needed for making the education system be more job oriented. Improving quality, more commitment by the regulatory bodies and structuring a regional framework for education are some major concerns that should be addressed in the education reforms. Integrating schools with the higher education is another important challenge faced by the region. 5

The need for collaboration among South Asian countries in tackling the problem of harnessing human capital was stressed by Riffat Ayesha Anis, Director, SARCC Human Resource Development Centre, Centre, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). (SAARC). SARCC Human Resource Development Centre which was established in Pakistan in 1998 with the aim of promoting knowledge, inputs and technical and behavioral skills in the SARCC region is contributing in many ways to develop human capital. Capacity building is of utmost important as the region has a labour surplus. Capacity building can be mainly done in three ways namely; develop talent, deploy talent and draw talent. These are the backbone of any country’s human capital competitiveness. The region needs more investments in the fields of education and health for individuals to be more productive. The need for more investments in the education sector, importance of improving business services and getting diaspora’s contribution in a more meaningful way were pointed out as critical issues for the region in harnessing the human capital by Rafiq Dossani, Senior Economist, RAND Corporation, Corporation Santa Monica Office, California. Although many of the countries in South Asia are going through the youth bulge, the issues in the education sector remain a concern that should be tackled soon. More state investment in education is needed to ensure that quality and private investments are also on one engineering student per year. Why do countries in South Asia need a service driven economy, when they aren’t generating enough employment but taking the larger portion of the GDP? A closer analysis should be done to understand the real picture. In South Asia, growth has happened in consumer services but not in business services. Business services are the important sources in job creation. In this context first the focus should be given to the manufacturing sector, which would consecutively improve the business services. Dossani, argued that for the development of the IT enabling companies in the South Asia, the contribution (in terms of starting up companies, employment development and etc.) made by the diaspora was very minimal. Lack of required skills was the main reason for this poor contribution by the diaspora. Rameshore Kanal, Kanal, Professor, South Asian Institute of Management, Lalitpur, Nepal, Nepal, 6 increased. China spends US $ 51,000 on one engineering student per year where as India spends only US $ 8000

1. With the changes that have taken place in the Nepali labour market, most unskilled and semiskilled workers looked for work outside the country and remittance has become the largest source of income of Nepal after 2005. Though the remittances have provided some beneficial effects to the economy, it puts an awkward pressure on domestic wages without a corresponding rise in the productivity, eroding competiveness. Reducing labour market rigidities is one way of addressing this issue 2. Increasing productivity of exiting workers should be done prior to creating additional employments. Productivity is not only a function of knowledge and skills but also of working conditions, reliability of supply of parts etc. 3. The emerging middle class in India would not only be a boom for India but for the whole region if tapped correctly. The hospitality industry could play a curial role in this regard. Talking more about issues faced by the people and making a voice for them is the way to get the serious political attention on these issues remarked Rajiv Kumar – Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, India commenting on the politics behind the creation of jobs. Further, health should be regarded as a fundamental requirement in effective harnessing of human capital. Malnutrition, sanitation are some common health problems in the region. Establishing a good primary health system is of utmost importance. However, the governments’ attention in capturing human potential is extremely low. This is reflected by low government investments in health and education. Having strong statistical information on the informal sector is also important in getting political attention and support as most problems can be highlighted and backed with robust data. Starting the process of public private partnership but with better regulations and doing good studies on supply chains within the informal sector to get a better idea of this sector, would also help in dealing with the problem. ‘Taking private solution for public problems’ has also contributed for the low political attention for human problems. Floor Discussion 1. The service sector dominates economic growth across the SEA region. But, further One of the methods to expand expanding the service sector itself does not create more jobs.

the job market/employment is to introduce industrialization on manufacturing. Therefore, it is important to bring the industrial policy, which leads to the creation of more jobs. For instance, some counties in East Asia have brought industrial policies and generated more jobs. But, the countries within the regions of East-Asia/South East Asia countries, who did not apply the industrial policy actively, and which fall into the middle income trap, could not progress their 7

economies fast. Therefore, ‘diversification of the economy’ is vital to create a good environment for employments. 2. Establishment of labour market institutions is also very important. Rigidities in the labour

market do not hamper job growth – Indonesia (before the fall of Suhartho) is a good example It was an unregulated economy, did not have a labour union, yet had good legislative institutes therefore, still employment in the informal sector was about to 70 per cent. Hence, proper labour market institutions need to be formed; because, labour productivity can be improved through these institutions. Particularly, wage policy and productivity are very closely related. 3. The inability to expand the tax by the desired amount in terms of GDP is not the problem.

The problem is that tax collection is less in terms of revenue. For instance, the tax ratio to GDP in this region is about 10 per cent, despite the economic growth. Since, majority of this region live in the rural area; agrarian issues are not addressed well; pluralism still dominate those countries. For instance, Philippine was the leading economy in South East Asia in the early 50s, South Korea was the poorest country in the world at that time, and it addressed the real issues. Therefore, OECD countries keep those as goods lessons. 4. Maintaining the quality in the education sector is important to make a sustainable growth

in a country. It is observed that quality of education in the government sector is better compared to the private sector. In the case of Bangladesh, the number of private education institutions in the tertiary education sector has expanded largely in the last two decades. However, quality of education in the private sector is not good as expected at the beginning of the system, when compared to the government education sector. However, expansion of the number of institutions was continued, and the cost of the service is also much higher in the private sector. Quality is important in the country; because, banks, business parties, education institutions etc. are keen to recruit the people, who passed out from the government education sector. 5. On the other hand, political involvement in the government education sector is another

issue. As Bangladesh is experiencing, political interference always from staff recruitment and student enrolment to the government school/universities. This hinders the transparency in the education system. Therefore, quality of education is absent though the student enrollment and gender disparities are met as expected. 8


Strengthening the public policy on health and education is essential. Particularly, universal

provision of public health and education leads to sustainable economic growth. It is evident that many countries, who have achieved sustainable higher growth, have invested largely in health and education. Also, social cohesion is essential for growth. Therefore, it is important to convince the political leaders on the importance of investing in health and education, to ultimately spend more money for health and education. 7. More than two decades back, the countries in the region have done the policy reforms

explicitly. However, it did not address and invest in the whole issue, in the social context sufficiently: human capital, health, education and so on. Therefore, addressing the social issues, and allocating adequate money in the social context is an agenda, which should be a part of the South Asian integration project in order to gain the basics rights. Further, apart from the financing, the absence of the institutional framework of the region is another fundamental issue. For instance, no institution exists in the region to ensure the quality of health/education and to deliver on the health goals etc.; particularly in India, Primary Healthcare Centers have been decimated, and no one has started to bring them back. Further, over the last years, the region has not got the institutional framework. Thus, proper institutional framework is extremely important in order to deliver the welfare programmes to the nations. 8. It is important to find the possibilities of translating the potentials of humans into capital.

Physical resources are being translated into growth and exports since it gives high rates of returns. Likewise, human resources can be transformed into valuable growth generating resources by skilled and educated people. One of the issues for not being able to create the adequate jobs is market failure domestically and externally. Creating jobs internally is the responsibility of the respective government. Each country sets the target to maximize the GDP growth, and emphasize the importance of GDP growth. But, nobody is emphasizing the growth rate of employment. Therefore, it is important to note that growth rate of employment should be given the same degree of importance as micro and macroeconomic policy objectives. 9. Particularly in India, the cast system is a barrier for the development of education and GDP growth. Incorporating the importance of employment growth into macroeconomic policy brings more values and it becomes one of the

health. Politics of education depends on the cast system. It is believed that people in the high cast are allowed higher education while those who are in the lower cast are not entitled for 9

education at all. In 1935, the Constitution has given the very limited electorate in India while Sri Lanka has universal adult election. Therefore, Sri Lanka was able to perform better than other counties in the region in terms of education and health. 10. Recently, the Government of Pakistan has passed the Constitutional Amendment for

Compulsory free education across the county. Particularly, politics of the democracy is dominant, and it is a barrier for expanding public services. Because, a large portion of the funds are allocated for incentives of public administration, and public politics, it leads to public spending. On the other hand, an additional budget is required in order to expand the universal access of service. Therefore, the political leaders should be informed about how to use the additional money particularly in, addressing the needs of the poor segment in the country. It is observed that other organization such as civil societies, research institutes etc. have failed to keep the political leader’s informed with regard to spending the additional money effectively. 11. With regard to successes in health and education, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are good

examples. The SEA countries will encounter the demographic dividend till about 2030 and this dividend can be reaped according to the countries policies and actions. Sri Lanka is an exception; because, Sri Lanka has reached the demographic dividend from the early 1970’s till 2005. However, Sri Lanka has already missed the opportunity of the demographic dividend because of two main reasons; absence of policies and internal conflict (civil war). On the other hand, Sri Lanka is benefiting from good health and education outcomes owing to large investment in those sectors over the years. As a result, Sri Lanka is experiencing a rapidly aging population, from which, 12% of the population will double by the year 2025. Particularly, the country is fronting many issues due to the aging population at low per capita income. Particularly, more money is required to provide care for the elderly population. In the Sri Lankan context, one of the ways to reap the demographic dividend is the low female labour participation rate (32%). From 1970 onward, Bangladesh has started the public health service ‘door to door’ through community health workers, as well as micro financing services funds. 12. There are many ways of creating the jobs in the region. Global integration and to enhance the financial stability of the households. All the services were provided using public money or/and NGO sectors’

intersection between the formal and informal sectors are key ways of generating jobs. Particularly, more attention should be paid to the informal sector same as the formal sector. 10

Apart from the public sector, involvement by the private sector and the community in the social service sector should be strengthened. Plenary Session 2: ‘Managing Water Resources, Food Security and Climate Change in South Asia’ (3rd September) Climatic conditions of South Asia are changing rapidly. The temperature is to increase by 3-6

centigrade by the year 2100. The sea level is expected rise by 100-110cm, monsoonal and inter monsoonal patterns are changing, and extreme climatic events are visible than ever before. These conditions pose tremendous threats of the livelihoods of farers, fishermen and all others. The population of south Asia is expected to reach 25 billion by year 2050 and it will account to 20% of the world population. Approximately 75% of the population is dependent upon agriculture as their source of employment and majority of them are dependent on rain as well as irrigated agriculture. While climate change negatively impacts on the water availability for agriculture, rapid development in South Asia will result in many sectors competing for water. Therefore, managing climate change, water resources and food security are rapidly becoming a serious concern for South Asia. The session on managing, water resources, food security and climate change in South Asia was chaired by Dr. Abid Suleri, Executive Director, Sustainable Policy Development Institute, Pakistan, and the lead presenter was Dr. Posh Raj Pandey , Executive Chairman of South Asia Watch on Trade Economics and Environment (SAWTEE).This was followed by an expert panel discussion. The expert panel discussion comprised of five main experts in the subject area namely; Dr. Fahmida Khatum, Research Director and Head of Research Center for Policy Dialog, Bangladesh, _ Mr. Dago Tshering, Special Envoy of Prime Minister, Kingdom of Bhutan,_ Prof. G. K. Chadha, President of the South Asian university, Mr. Amrit Lugun, Director, Economic, Trade and Finance Division, SAARC Secretariat and Prof. Akmal Hussain, Prof. of Economics, Forman Christian College (A Charted University), Pakistan. Dr. Abid Suleri, in his opening remarks highlighted that managing water resources, food security and climate change are rapidly becoming a serious concern for every region of the world. However, South Asia’s geography, high poverty levels and population density have rendered it especially vulnerable to these effects. South Asia is a region that is likely to be one of the hardest hit by climate change, along with devastating natural disasters. Thus, climate change is also 11

highly likely to increase malnutrition through its effects on infectious diseases, dysentery and other diseases. South Asia is a home for more than one fifth of world’s population and an increase population in the region results in the increased demand for food. The lead presenter, Dr. Posh Raj Pandey, stated that the climatic conditions of South Asia are changing rapidly. The temperatures are to increase by 3-6 centigrade by year 2100. The sea level is expected rise by 100-110cm, monsoonal and inter monsoonal patterns are changing, and extreme climatic events are visible than ever before. These conditions pose tremendous threats to the livelihoods of farers, fishermen and all others. The population of south Asia is expected to reach 25 billion by year 2050 and it will account to 20% of the world population. Approximately 75% of the population is dependent upon agriculture as their source of employment and majority of them are dependent on rain as well as irrigated agriculture. While climate change negatively impacts on water availability for agriculture, rapid development in South Asia will result in many sectors competing for water. Therefore, managing climate change, water resources and food security are rapidly becoming a serious concern for South Asia and for all the regions in the world for that matter.

Evidence suggests that South Asia is one of the heavily impacted areas of climate change when compared to other regions of the world, and there are issues of safe drinking water and high malnutrition. Approximately 21 million of South Asians was affected by floods and landslides in year 2011, and these impacts are aggravated by the prevailing poverty conditions. Hence, facing 12

climate change, dealing with water scarcity but at the same time, ensuring food security of all is of paramount importance. The lead presenter stated that the food security in South Asia is a multifaceted issue. It is a question of global, regional, national and individual food security. Failing at one level would have devastating impacts on the other. It is also a complex and a complicated phenomenon where a number of factors are involved ranging from food availability to accessibility, utilization and nutrition of food. Hence addressing the issues related to climate change, water scarcity and food security needs integrated approaches. While countries are required to take up the challenge individually, sustainable solutions are only possible through collaborative international and regional interventions. During the expert panel discussion, Prof. G. K. Chadha highlighted that there could be many ways to achieve food security in South Asia while managing climate change and water resources. However, starting from a micro perspective and then ensuring sustainability up to regional and global level has proved to be a successful path. Following this path, achieving food security at micro level first is very important. Thus, individual food security is needed to ensure the national food security; followed by regional food security and finally global food security. At an individual level it is important conserve water for agriculture, practice community-based adaptation strategies, build climate resilient farming systems and conserve the bio diversity associated with the framing systems. Furthermore, he emphasized that the domestic food demand, food supply and food security policies are important in achieving food security within the country. Therefore, land and water management policies, food technology policies, irrigation policies and especially public distribution systems are important in terms of maintaining food affordability and stability within the country. In that scenario, the recently passed Indian National Food Security Act 2013 is important as it provides subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people. This Act is a role model to other countries as it offers several solutions to achieve food availability, affordability and stability. However, climate adaptation is costly and farmers need guidance in adapting climate resilient agriculture which needs to be backed up by solid and sound research. Therefore, institutional support as well as policy level support from a national point of view is essential. One way to go 13

about this is to start with internalizing climate change and water management in to policy framework, especially polices that are focused on agriculture, food security and poverty. Yet this is not enough, there are many things that can be learnt from regional and global best practices, and these lessons need to be integrated in to the national planning process. In most cases individual countries are focusing on individual and national food security rather than regional and global food security and that is not the way forward. In the floor discussion it is said that the South Asian region can be identified as the least integrated region in the world. Some countries in the region are not best friends. Furthermore, some prefer to maintain relationships with other countries outside the region. However, the importance of regional connectivity should be in mind set of each country in the South Asian region, if we were to fight against food insecurity and issues of climate change collectively. It is important to identify rapid ways and means for proper implementation of the SAARC food bank. Thus, it is important for all countries to build up properly managed food silos to store grains. Presently, India and Pakistan are losing nearly 15% of their serial production annually due to bad storage. Furthermore, during the floor discussion the importance of research on new varieties which can be resistant to changes in the climate was also highlighted. Countries need to commence agreements with the United Nations and the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) on variety developments and seed management. Furthermore, compulsory licences are also important with regards to rights of seeds. Countries can negotiate with Multi –National Companies (MNCs) on seeds and farmer’s rights and also on using propriety knowledge on seeds. In addition, it was emphasised during the floor discussion that the South Asian region so far has not pro-actively worked on farmer’s traditional knowledge of seeds, which is very important in terms of achieving food security within the region. Furthermore, proper management of regional ‘commons’ is also very important. For example; managing genetic resources, bio diversity, seeds and technology transfers in the region are very essential in terms of achieving food security and facing challenges of climate change. Hence, the importance of new technologies deserves an acknowledgement. It is important to see “what can deliver the best”, while ensuring environmental and social sustainability.


Moreover, the South Asian region has not been able to achieve their common goals so far at the World Trade Organization (WTO). That is because all South Asian countries have acted individually in the world forum’s (WTO, WIPO) and not collectively. It is important to perform collectively as a region in world forums to achieve common goals in the region. Finally, developing a regional platform for collaborative research on food production and adaptive agriculture practices is an immediate step that South Asia needs to foster, to prevent further famine and ensure food security in the future.


Plenary Session 3: Managing IntraIntra-Country Growth Disparities in South Asia (3rd September)

Plenary 3 brought together issues that have hitherto not been discussed at any previous SAES, and in that sense was quite a unique session. In his opening remarks, the Chair Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya noted that although there has been an increase in growth and significant progress in poverty reduction in South Asia, income disparities, rural-urban disparities, regional imbalances in small countries, gender disparities, hunger and nutrition disparities, conflict and malgovernance in South Asia are yet to be addressed. Therefore the concept of ‘inclusive growth’ in South Asia has become relevant in the current context. This session attempted to reconceptualise inclusive growth - what is there in this new concept of inclusive growth and what it

really means for South Asia? South Asia has more than half a billion poor people in the world and
40 percent of the world’s poor are living in the Asian continent and three fourth of them live in India. The question posed by the Chair was, “are we going to do better in the next decade?” In the lead presentation on the theme paper “Managing Intra-Country Growth Disparities in South Asia”, Dr. Vaqar Ahmed raised three broad issues 1. 2. 3. Reasons for disparities Mega trends in South Asia (SA) now and in the future Game changes that can influence the mega trends positively and negatively

The first point of discussion included the ‘10 patterns which give birth to intra-country disparities. 1. 2. Demographic dividend or demographic disasters or ‘the ticking bomb’ which related to Urban South Asia. Increasing urbanisation and agglomeration can be observed in South the Youth in South Asia. Asia, which change the way policies are designed. A special reference was made to Pakistan as the fastest urbanizing country in South Asia. 3. 4. world. 5. Disconnect with sustainability. In a previous session, it was discussed as to how environment related hazards, migration and transaction costs of coping strategies impact on 16 Rise in the share of the services sector. Further, the services sector is said to The informal economy is fuelled by the poorest institutions and the number of formal accommodate the large informal economy of South Asia. firms competing against unregistered firms is unprecedented compared to other regions of the

local economies. A clear understanding had to be made on how it impacts the inclusiveness and participatory approaches that are advocated at the local level. 6. Intra-country growth disparities also spring from the mediocre quality of factors of production- While there is inequitable distribution of factors of production; the bigger concern is about malnourishment and enlarged levels of mortality. Particularly in terms of capital accumulation, lack of inclusiveness can be observed in accessing commercial banking facilities, given the type of entrepreneurial potential of the region. 7. Low levels of inclusiveness in patterns of growth– In terms of economic dimension, South Asia has been successful in pulling people out of the poverty yet, a lot more has to be done. Also more attention has to be paid on inequality of income consumption and opportunities that continue to exist. 8. 9. Lack of participatory approach- Despite the rise of civil society in South Asia, gender Low redistribution - Lack of fiscal discipline and low tax to GDP ratio has become a equality ranking and the Voice and accountability index still remain low. problems. The issues of domestic resource mobilization and domestic absorption should also be addressed. 10. Trade under inefficient infrastructure- This may not be able to sustain the growth rates in the medium to long run. The second point of discussion presented three emerging mega trends in South Asia that helped to mitigate growth disparities. This discussion was on the main areas mentioned below while the contributing factors were identified for each. • Emerging examples of individual empowerment across South Asia: rising middle class, a relatively independent media, access to ICT- giving voice to youth and communities, propoor legislations (e.g.: Right To Information) • Demographic change: rising literate urban class, increased mobility of labour across sectors, rural to urban transition, knowledge spill overs, active contribution of diaspora not only in the form of remittances also in the forms of technological transfers and related spill overs. • Emergence of new power centres. Special references were made to superior judiciary in Pakistan, corporate sector in India which has become a vibrant philanthropy centre and, parliamentary forces and media which shape the new emerging power centres. • Game changers-How to leverage the Mega Trends which had been identified in this paper – four game changes had been identified that if acted upon, which would have a 17

positive impact on Mega Trends and if not, they would adversely impact the Mega Trends - violent conflicts across South Asia, human and man-made disasters, lack of transparency, failure to invest in human capital The presentation concluded with a few questions to ‘re-think South Asia’s inclusive growth’ 1. 2. 3. 4. How will these game changes impact the mega trends? Can rural development be separated from traditional structural transformation? Can the How urban spaces can become hubs of domestic commerce:? Can our cities become Can we re-invent youth engagement? Youth not only as a strict economic object but also

agricultural, rural economy not become innovative? domestic commerce centres? as a unit that is representative of social cohesion which can contribute to the demand side accountability of the communities. The first of the panelists to discuss the paper was Anis Chowdhury (UNESCAP). He mainly touched upon inclusive growth and its implications on South Asia. As a multidimensional concept, inclusiveness is looked at from an inequality point of view. Inequality could be vertical inequality, horizontal inequality; horizontal inequality would include the regional inequality and inequality between different groups of the population. In UNESCAP perspective, inequality is defined in terms of vulnerability. In the Asia Pacific region, 800 million people live between 1 dollar and 2 dollars a day. Personal misfortune or any calamity can push them back into poverty. Hence economic security should also be a part of inclusiveness. Assets in inequality should also be discussed. “Land” can be considered as a main asset. He pointed out some studies of ESCAP which looked at the relationship of tax to GDP ratio and gini which showed an inverse relationship, and similarly, expenditure on social security as a percentage of the GDP also negatively linked to the gini coefficient. This is a clear message from the public policy view, indicating that the fiscal policy space has to be addressed and isit’s a fundamental issue. In the latest ESCAP Economic and Social Survey, rough calculations were done on a package of 6 basic policies. Out of which, one was on Indian Rural Employment Guarantee. If the state can be the last resource to rescue the financial sector, why should it not be the last resource for employment? In the Article 55 of the UN, it says that the full employment should be the goal of the economic policy. Also, IMF Article number 1, the purpose of IMF is to support the member states to achieve a higher level of employment. The Article 4 - Preamble says that the goal of economic policy should be to foster orderly economic growth with reasonable price stability taking into account a country’s special circumstances. 18

The package also includes five more things which are, social protection, income support for elderly and disabled persons, education for all after the secondary level, health for all and universal access to modern sources of energy by 2030. Estimations show that 8-10 percent of the GDP will be required to fulfill the above mentioned , while the tax to GDP ratio is only 8-10 percent. Hence, addressing the fiscal issue is a fundamental responsibility of a state. The following points were summarized by the Chair, from the panelist’s speech: • • • Issue of Multi-dimensionality of inclusiveness – going beyond income to include issues of Relevance of fiscal policy in terms of policy interventions including both the domestic Fundamentals of policy making - making full employment as the objective along with economic security, property rights. resource mobilization and expenditure. social projection. The next panelist was Prof. Rehman Sobhan who reiterated that there is a huge discourse going on about inclusiveness. The Cameron Committee report on the MDGs basically focuses on the social protection component of inclusiveness where the poor are excluded from the benefits of growth, so there should be state supported budgetary interventions in a variety of areas which would enhance their share of benefits in the growth process. The panelist pointed out that, only the symptoms of the problem are addressed yet, but not the causes of inequality which derived from the unjust nature of the society’s behaviour. There are a few basic elements that hinder inclusive growth within a country, which the panelist pointed out as unjust access to productive assets, inequitable functioning of markets, inequitable access to opportunities for human development, undemocratic nature of governance systems and the unjust process of globalization. As far as assets are concerned, people of limited means should have access to assets which will enable them to participate in the economy. With regard to agrarian reforms, they should match the 21st century where people are given instruments of production associated with getting access to land and then associate them with the value addition processes which comes from getting access to land. Land should be treated as the equity of the poor. If land displacement is taken place, due to development interventions, in the form of agricultural or infrastructural development, those who own the land should be given an equity stake in that project. To address the issue of unequal functioning of markets, the panelist made 4 suggestions to show how markets could be made more equitable. First is to address the problem through collective action, which would aggregate the capacities and provide access to higher tiers of 19

markets (model of SEWA). Second is participation in value addition (e.g. AMUL India). The third is the aggregation of small players. The fourth is the issue of workers’ participation, which would give workers a share of equity of the company they work for. Moreover, the panelist pointed out some more important points before ending. Governance- “we need to democratize the democracy”- “democracy has become a rich man’s game” in South Asian countries. If you are a person of a limited means your chance of getting a voice in the democratic process is nonexisting. Globalization- the whole global market chain is a highly unequal construct. The next panelist to share views on the subject was Dr. Jagdish Pokhrel who mainly concentrated on spatial disparities and regional imbalances and how it affects the citizens, in particular to Nepal. Compared to other countries in the region, Nepal is not a good performer when it comes to economic growth, but is a good performer in terms of poverty reduction. Over the past decade growth was less the 3.5 percent, but Nepal is on track to achieve most of the MDGs and in fact already achieved the Goal 1- regarding extreme poverty. When it comes to the distribution of poverty and the growth, there is a significant disparity, regionally and socially. In the hills, the poverty level is high as 40 percent, when the national average is 25 percent. There are poverty disparities in terms of urban and rural area. Poverty in rural areas accounts for 27 percent, while in urban areas it is 15 percent. More than 50 of the population of Nepal are living in urban areas, in 2030. A slower pace of poverty reduction is observed in urban areas than in rural areas, indicating a new trend. In urban areas, youth migration and political employment raises huge problems, while accessibility is the main factor in distributing the benefits of development in rural areas. These kinds of trends shape the policy making which should appropriately address the issues of rural poverty and urban poverty separately. Hence, the focus of intervention is in the three spaces, of geographic, economic and social. In geographic space – the major focus would be to increase accessibility for citizens living in remote areas, improving connectivity through highways, creating 10 major cities in the mid-hill areas, increasing and upgrading the quality of transport network. In the economic space, the focus would be on agriculture, tourism and industries. In the agricultural sector, rather than distributing and giving access to lands, more attention would be paid to commercialization and leasing and increasing the plots of lands. This is with the aim of promoting industrialized agriculture rather than subsistence agriculture. In the social space, concentration would be on deeper empowerment of people through the means of community organizations, civil society, government programmes and social protection. In terms of governance, decentralization will be revisited. This will further deepen the decentralization, which will be manifested in the restructuring of the state into a 20

federal state. In this process several new provinces will be created. That is considered as one of the strong ways of decentralizing the governance and addressing some of the inequality disparity issues prevailing in the country. Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy was the next panelist and he focused on regional disparities and urbanization from Sri Lanka’s perspective. His comments revolved around social indicators and social developments and then the growth story of Sri Lanka together with the urbanization. Sri Lanka had been an out performer with regards to PQLI, Human development index, the MDGs. Currently the head-count poverty rate is 8.9 percent and it had come further down recently. The unemployment rate is less than 5 percent. But there are lagging regions particularly in terms of social development, especially the conflict affected areas and the estate sector, and some pockets of poverty in urban and rural areas, which continue to lag in terms of social indicators. Nevertheless, considering the stage of development of the country, the basic services provision across the country is quite well. However, the main question is about the sustainability of the models which delivered these positive outcomes of social development. As for Dr. Coomaraswamy, it will not be sustainable without an accelerated trajectory growth, as Sri Lanka has become a lower-middle income country. More growth will give more fiscal space to sustain the gains that had been acquired so far. When looking back, Sri Lanka’s social development has been driven far less by economic transformation, but more by external inflows. “Sri Lanka had been a donor darling for so many years”. About 5-6 percent of GDP came as ODA. This helped Sri Lanka live beyond its means and also to provide the basic services across the country without generating domestic resource mobilization that normally is necessary to sustain this. With graduation to the lower-middle income status, the country has had to recourse to commercial borrowing, which exposes the country to rating agencies, and subjection to tougher discipline in terms of fiscal performance. Hence, the country is now in a new paradigm. Without accelerated growth, it will be difficult for Sri Lanka to protect the gains it has had in terms of social development and to build upon them. With regard to urbanization, 15 percent of the population of Sri Lanka lives in urban areas, according to the official statistics. However, being a small country, with good communication network and road developments nobody lives far away from urban centres. However, the country has been able to keep people out in the rural areas through the current model which is heavily based on subsidies and transfers. As a result, agriculture accounts for 32 percent of the workforce but delivers only 11 percent of the GDP. Productivity in agriculture is 3rd in the 21

economy and the whole economy has a productivity which is less than half of that of Thailand. Very high human and financial resource absorption, low productivity and low returns in the agriculture sector suggests that there has to be a shift of resources. Resources have to be channeled to higher productivity sectors, in order to achieve the growth that is necessary to protect the gains that was there in the past. Hence, the challenge for Sri Lanka is to move from low productivity agriculture, low technology manufacturing, traditional services, retail wholesale trade and public service to higher productivity agriculture, higher tech manufacturing and modern services like shipping aviation etc. This transformation is necessary and how that is to be done is really the challenge for Sri Lanka. The World Development Report 2010 argues that economic density and economic agglomeration were necessary in a globalized economy. Therefore, disparities were in fact inevitable if one wants to have an accelerated growth trajectory. The challenge is to build up economic density in certain urban centres which would be globally competitive and at the same time provides basic services in a partially blind basis, so that the whole country has education and health, sanitation and mobility of people within the country. Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, who was the Keynote Speaker the previous day, posed a very poignant question as the next panelist in the discussion – “how can we achieve much more balanced and equitable globalization without restructuring the state and politics?”. The fundamental challenge in every country is the coupling of politics and economy. What is missing is the political economy. Two promising signs are the growing role of the civil society and media. If somehow, these new force could be channelized in setting the agenda of the political economy, that can break the status quo. Some examples are: in Nepal - against monarchy (the role of the new civil society and the media), in Pakistan - the restoration of judges, rally of female journalists in India against women harassment, etc. Media and civil society offer great opportunities, if think tanks and academicians can fall in line and use this platform. The society is changing in many ways. Traditionally urban centres were defined by certain criteria of population, density of population or density of economic activity, but now, media and mobility are changing the whole scope of urbanization. Today, rural areas are also urbanizing. The urbanization of rural areas may offer opportunities for rural enterprise and through that, enterprises opportunities for local people could be created. One of the biggest obstacles to inclusive growth is the way of the educational system. The quality of education given to poor and marginalized should be a major issue of consideration. Education should be beyond the literacy numbers to consider the quality of the 22

education. For example, in terms of building up the public sector systems, 80,000 teachers were recruited in a transparent manner, which showed positive outcomes of students compared to private schools within 3 years. This indicates a strong correlation between the quality of the education and the output. So, reforming the public sector education system is a priority concern. Commenting on the points raised by the panelist the Chair mentioned that “Education remains one of the key vehicles for social and economic transformation”. Also, education turned out to be the number 1 desired goal in all the Post 2015 Development Goals agendas, and it is the quality education which matters. Next up in the session was the floor discussion. The first question from the floor was directed in the form of a comment stating that the objective of the discussion, whether the region needed focus on poverty reduction or inequality reduction, was not clear. For example inequality in China has increased in massive scale but poverty has completely come down. So, the suggestion was put forward to focus on poverty reduction rather than inequality in South Asia. The second point was to focus on rapid growth, as growth is a necessary condition, whether its inclusive, sustainable, pro-poor or pro-regional. As a third point, growth should be combined with good governance as poverty reduction could be achieved through good governance. Further the floor discussion again pointed out that the title of the discussion is rather misleading. Growth disparity may be in existence in India and Pakistan but growth disparity is unclear in Bangladesh. A comment was made on structural transformation and rural development. In the case of Bangladesh, its economy is not driven by the service sector as like the most of the countries in South Asia. Bangladesh is following the stylized facts of structural transformation, where agriculture is declining and industry is rising, dominated by manufacturing. So, service is not necessarily becoming the dominant sector in Bangladesh. This is important to understand as there is a problem of falling in to the middle income trap if the country is leap fogging from agriculture to the services. However, another comment was made regarding the growing services sector of Bangladesh, especially in the sub-sectors of construction, recruitment agencies and restaurants. The panelists commented on the importance of the service sector in the economy. It is debatable whether the services sector is not providing inclusivity in strictly livelihood terms. One reason is because it is defined rather narrowly and the second is due to the unknown potential of the services sector, as a large part of it exists in the informal economy. In terms of disparity, is rural 23

urban resource transfer discourse now irrelevant or is it once again emerging? With regard to this point, the panelists discussed about the remittances of Nepal as an example. The economy of Nepal largely depends on remittances. Remittances flow to the rural areas to support the livelihoods of the people. There is not much production in the country, as a result the urban areas and countries, supply producers to Nepal and the urban areas supply goods to rural areas. So, the challenge is to sustain the whole economy and if they are able to increase the production in rural areas then they will be able to retain part of the resources. A point was made on agglomeration. Agglomeration can lead to a reduction in per unit service provision costs which can lead to provision of better services at a cheaper rate, if the people are allowed to move from rural areas to urban centres. For example, the Canadian education policy in the early period encouraged people to move from rural areas to urban centers for better services. In response to agglomeration, the panel mentioned that, urbanization helps the economies with agglomeration and helps in creating economic density; therefore it drives down unit costs. Economic density helps be competitive in a globalized economy, therefore urbanization is good and disparities are not necessarily bad. In fact they may even be necessary to accelerate growth. The next person pointed out that one of the reasons which is holding back the growth in South Asia is the lack of real interest in growth. Constraints to growth which are common to South Asia are mainly due to resistance to reforms. South Asians are the most resistant to reforms in the world. Another point is that in most of the countries the governance remains the way the colonial masters left us. Also reforms are not completed in any area, South Asia still dominantly agriculture and still think on sector management and command led growth. Panelists mentioned that moments of crisis are also moments of opportunities. In many countries where growth is experienced despite of reforms many people come to raise the question as to why the reforms are needed if the growth is increasing without reforms. In Pakistan there are series of problems of growth and crisis. So, they have found out that “reforms” are the answers. Moreover, there are two elements which need to be reformed. Firstly, traditional government structures are not designed to work in collaborative modes. Secondly, in traditional governance programmes there is no mechanism to value the performance. One of the capacities South Asia is lacking is in the area of public private partnership. States have run out of capacities to invest in new industries, so there has to be a greater role for private sector.


The Chair concluded the session with a thought-provoking statement - “growth is necessary, but disparity, discrimination; marginalization cannot be a fact of life.” Plenary Session 4: ‘Improving the Climate for Private Enterprise in South Asia’ (4th September)

This session which focused on improving the climate for the private sector in the region was chaired by Dr Rajiv Kumar, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi while Dr. Golam Moazzem, Additional Research Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) made the lead presentation. This was followed by a panel discussion comprising of, Arif Zaman from the South Asia Commonwealth Business Council; Dr Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International; Ambassador Farooq Shobhan; Dr. Babar Ali, Pakistani businessman and philanthropist; Suresh Shah, Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce; and Prof. Bishwamber Pyakural, Government Policy Specialist on trade, Nepal. The session discussed the nature of the private sector and analysed the progressive role it can play in South Asia, including its role in regional cooperation.


Making the opening remarks Rajiv Kumar stated his firm belief in the role, strength and dynamism of the private sector, especially in South Asia (SA) where it has been proven to be the more dynamic sector. He briefly discussed the problems faced by the private sector including dualism of the private sector - about 90 per cent of the private sector workers remain in the informal sector. Making the presentation, Golam Moazzem highlighted the key role played by the private sector in the region’s economic growth and development, especially in the last three decades. SA nevertheless, also remains to be one of the least competitive regions. Currently the private sector in the region face challenges due to the slowdown of domestic and global economies, political unrest and other issues. Golam Moazzem explained that it is important to talk about enterprise level competitiveness because it gives an indication of the goods and services provided by the sector at a competitive price and quality, their ability to respond to changes in demand and capacity to follow innovative marketing strategies. Hence, it is not enough to look only at comparative advantage for private sector competitiveness, but it is also important to look at the competitive advantage as a whole. In explaining the analytical framework, Moazzem discussed Porter’s model of ‘Five Forces’. He went on to discuss the trends in investment in manufacturing and services sector: overtime investment has improved largely due to the private sector. On the dynamics and changes in the private sector, the presenter highlighted the rising importance of the services sector, and the importance of analyzing the linkages and support the services sector can provide to the growing manufacturing sector thereby, linking the region to the global value chains. In terms of the composition and structure of private sector enterprises of the region, it was mentioned that despite the liberalizations of economies and other developments, it is still mainly the micro, small and medium industries that make up the private sector in SA. The growth of micro and small enterprises into medium and large-scale industries overtime has been largely absent. Informal activities largely dominate the manufacturing and services sectors. Entrepreneurship has not been dynamic, and labour-capital ratios have not improved vastly in the last three decades; some improvements were seen in Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Moazzem also explained that labour productivity between industrial and services sectors vary widely, with the productivity of the latter being higher in five of the South Asia countries. Despite the pro-private sector policies that have been put in place it has not helped much to make the private sector competitive or inclusive. A major challenge is that a majority of the policies focus only on the formal enterprises whereas there is a large informal sector. The other 26

main bottlenecks include inadequate infrastructure, corruption, government bureaucracy, policy instability and tax regulation. At the micro-level, the dominating constraint is access to finance. Country specific one’s include, access to land in Afghanistan, and corruption and electricity issues in India. Hence, the priority is to put the relevant national policies in place first and then to focus on regional policies. Participation of firms in the global value chain is limited, and it is possible to identify operational and logistics challenges in building supply chains in the region. Trade related barriers, long sensitive lists and NTBs are some of the operational challenges while poor trade facilitation at border points is a major logistical challenge. The presentation drew lessons from South East Asia: features of the SE Asian economies , the growth of the manufacturing sector along with the services sector; deep regional integration driven by the ASEAN FTA; and strong regional value chains. Favourable macro policies in the region were also crucial in supporting the private sector growth in South East Asia. Their national policies related to the private sector are very similar to that of SA, however these are very specific, targeted, and are mainly efficiencyenhancing polices. Regional policies are directed at integrating trade, investment and production-related activities within the region. For SA it is important to revisit the policies of private sector development in the region, focusing on value chain development, entrepreneurship development, development of SMEs and the corporate sector, horizontal and vertical expansion of enterprises, facilitating the link the manufacturing sector with the services sector, sound macroeconomic policies and formalization of the informal sector and strengthening of the the corporate sector. Nevertheless, the corporate sector should itself follow market principles, basic business ethics and engage in corporate social responsibility. Countries can also follow up on the possibility of having a South Asian Investment Area. The panel discussion that followed the presentation focused on whether the private sector can play a progressive role, how to minimize dualism that exists in the private sector and the role of the private sector in regional cooperation. It was expressed that the private sector is changing, with the mindsets in countries like India and Pakistan being much more receptive now. Focusing on the development of SMEs, Arif Zaman emphasized the importance of, forging partnerships; provision of technical support by large scale enterprises to SMEs; establishment of finance providers for SMEs; having an effective platform to promote investing in the region such as the SA Regional Investment Promotion Agency; the need to look at different markets, i.e. opportunities in South Africa; looking at models of innovations, developing ideas; and attracting 27

and supporting women to engage in economic activities, i.e. ITC’s ‘The Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors’. Expressing his views Dr. Mehta, discussed the importance of looking at how the government treats the private sector vis-à-vis the public sector: an issue that comes up often is the government favouring the public sector over the private sector in many situations; the question arises as to whether the state can remain neutral – the issue of competitive neutrality. India has drawn up a holistic national competition policy to address this. He discussed the possible reasons for crony capitalism in the region and also the importance of getting rid of the regulatory burden. Amb. Farooq Shobhan in his intervention focused on the role of the private sector on promoting regional economic cooperation. He stated that much more needs to be done in giving the private sector the opportunity to promote regional cooperation. He mentioned that there is a need to acknowledge a sense of disappointment and frustration over what the SAARC Chamber has been able to deliver over the years. On crony capitalism he opined that in the present environment the private sector has played a rather negative role in facilitating investment to serve their narrow interests. On ways of overcoming this, he highlighted the need to provide a forum to discuss some of the pertaining issues at a high policy level and discussed the initiative of SA Network of Corporate Governance. The importance of the ability to provide input from a forum such as the SAES to policy makers was emphasized, while expressing the need for policy makers to attend such forums. The current focus on regional infrastructure projects and the role that the private sector can play in these in terms of public-private partnerships were also acknowledged. Speaking at the forum, Dr Babar Ali stated that governments should not be involved in business in any way but should concentrate on providing a level playing field to all its citizens, be it ensuring law and order or providing infrastructure. The government should do their job as the private sector has the ability and resources to engage in business successfully. Also, there is a tremendous amount of entrepreneurship in the unorganized sector. He mentioned that the visa regime is a big hurdle in developing trade; there is the need to liberalize the visa regimes as it is the legitimate traveler that is punished and harassed thereby, limiting interaction, trade and ideas between people. Mr. Suresh Shah mentioned that “what needs to be done” [for the region to improve private sector competitiveness] is out there and that what is missing is leadership both at the political 28

level and within the private sector. Hence, the challenge for us and the think-tanks is to find out how we can get the political leadership to fix their political imperatives around the necessary economic imperatives. The fundamental difference between SA and South East Asia is that in South East Asia the experience has been the reverse. Secondly, SA has been very protective whereas South East Asia has been quite open, with the private sector in the latter being very competitive. Hence, we should not encourage protectionism in SA and should allow firms to compete first in order to be competitive. Thirdly, the public sector figures should be facilitators rather than controllers. To do this, it is important that the public service attracts the very best talent into the public service by offering good incentives. Interaction between the private sector and the public sector does not take place in SA. Prof. Bishwamber Pyakural bringing in examples from Nepal mentioned that the country invested on average 15-25 per cent of their GDP in the 2005-2012 period on developing transport infrastructure, compared to 32 and 42 per cent respectively in India and China. The binding constraints that the Nepalese private sector faces include the road transport costs, loading costs and transshipment costs; Nepalese firm pay on average 50 per cent more for export freight costs than other developing countries. Policies and regulations are made without consultation with the private sector. In the floor discussion, an example was provided on how the private sector has taken the lead in regional integration, by establishing Leather Industry Association of South Asia. The need to focus on innovation was also emphasized, as one can’t be competitive without innovation; the need to look at process as well as product innovation and may be the focus on making SA a hub for innovation. It was also highlighted that the private sector does not welcome competitionthere is a negative attitude to FDI in the region; there has been a lot of backsliding since the mid 1990s and there is a need for governments to introduce greater competition in the region. A question was raised as to whether it is necessary to bring in more regulation instead of harmonizing the already existing rules and regulations. The importance of learning from success stories within the region was also highlighted, while it was opined that competition policy should be studied in the context of industrial organizational structure.


Section 2 The 6th SAES saw the most extensive roll out of social media engagement than any previous SAES. The audio-visual equipment hired for the Summit facilitated this effort. This included a live webcast of all the Plenary sessions, which was easily accessible and viewable to anyone around the world from their desktop computers, laptops, or mobile devices. A small but dedicated social media team create live engagement between participants and external observers, produced special multimedia content before, during and after the Summit for the Summit blog, curated the Summit’s Twitter feed, and displayed the social media activity on special screens at the Summit venue. All theme papers were circulated in advance over email, on the Summit website and also on the Summit blog, so that participants would have the chance to familiarize themselves with the content and bring in informed opinions to the discussion. Plenary session panelists were especially asked to take note of the papers’ contents, so that they come to the discussion with clear and incisive comments on the papers. All powerpoint presentations of the Big Four Plenary speakers were uploaded in real time to the Summit blog, so that anyone watching the live webcast could browse through the PPTs and follow it as they were being discussed.

The social media conversations were integrated into the Summit blog, and used to generate further 30

discussion among the participants as well as ‘web-watchers’.

Youth bloggers participated in the SAES for the first time, and they generated a continual feed of thought-provoking op-ed style pieces throughout the Summit, especially during the Plenary Sessions. This gave a fresh perspective to the issues being discussed, from an important South Asian youth perspective.
The Summit website is available here – The Summit blog is available here – SAES 2013 Twitter archive - TV coverage in local media - Photos of the Summit participants -


Next steps
The key next step is to finalize the theme papers and publish them in a high-quality Summit volume, in time for distribution at the next SAES in 2014. This volume will also contain an overview of the discussions that were generated from the Plenaries that debated these papers. The volume will also contain brief overviews of the parallel sessions. The video recordings of all sessions will be made available for free viewing online by early 2014, along with written excerpts made available in text format for free download.


Partners and Sponsors of the 6th South Asia Economic Summit
SAES Core Partners Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Bangladesh South Asia Watch on Trade, Environment and Economics (SAWTEE), Nepal Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Pakistan Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), India South Asia Centre for Policy Studies (SACEPS), Nepal Funding Partners The World Bank ESCAP Sub Regional Office for South and South West Asia (SRO-SSWA) IDRC Think Tank Initiative UNESCAP The Asia Foundation AusAid International Seminar Support Scheme GIZ (SAARC Trade Promotion Network) South Asia Network on Development and Environment Economics (SANDEE) OXFAM Novib Commonwealth Secretariat, London Sustainability Partner Carbon Consulting Company Private Sector Partner Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Local Sponsors Sri Lankan Airlines Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel Softlogic PLC DFCC Bank People’s Bank 33 Commercial Bank Axis Bank

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