NEW DELHI: In an indication that India will not allow Pakistan to stall regional development envisaged under SAARC, a smaller group of six south-Asian nations have released an operation plan running through to 2025.
Member countries of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka — SAARC less Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“SASEC OP (operational plan) is the program’s first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among members,” finance ministry said in a statement.
SASEC was established in 2001 to improve cross-border connectivity, boost trade among member countries, and strengthen regional economic cooperation. With Pakistan stalling progress under SAARC umbrella, SASEC could get a bigger push from New Delhi.
Over 200 potential transport, trade facilitation and energy projects worth $120 billion in investments for the next five years have been identified under the plan. Out of these 74 projects are in India with an estimated project cost of over $60 billion. Majority of these projects are located in North East or Eastern part of the country.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the secretariat and lead financier of the SASEC program and to date has approved 40 projects worth almost $7.7 billion in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and information and communications technology.