SAARC Development Fund (SDF) has committed a total of USD 31.48 million for ongoing and future projects in Bhutan.
SDF has funded over ten projects in Bhutan worth USD 8.48 million under the social window as grants, USD 13 million under the economic window for purchase of Druk Air ATR aircraft and allocated USD 10 million under Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) funding scheme of SDF.
CEO of SDF, Sunil Motiwal (PhD), during Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering’s visit to the SDF Secretariat yesterday, said that Bhutan was one of the member states that has derived maximum benefits from SDF’s various funding schemes.
He said that Bhutan had opportunities to co-finance cross border projects focusing on ICT-digital technology, E-learning, renewable energy, agriculture, and health sector.
Lyonchhen was at the SDF to discuss collaboration by exploring more investment opportunities and to recommend potential focus area for the investment.
Projects under the social window include the strengthening of maternal and child health, empowering rural communities, the initiative to end violence against children, scaling up of climate-smart agriculture to setting up of community e-learning centers, supporting thousands of home-based workers and providing livelihood enhancement for small scale farmers.
An overview of the upcoming projects was also presented along with SDF’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) funding scheme in all SAARC Member States.
During the meeting, Lyonchhen said that such meetings opened the door for further discussion and collaboration. He said that he was keen to explore priority areas of the government, especially the agriculture-oriented cottage and small industry (CSI).
“I feel that agriculture is not fully explored at the moment,” he said. “I can see many linkages including the CSI agriculture enterprises where the government can work together with SDF.”
The SDF, since its inception in April 2010 by heads of the eight SAARC member states, is mandated to build regional integration and economic cooperation through project funding in all member states.
The SDF’s social window has supported a total of 10 projects in Bhutan. Seven out the ten projects have been successfully completed.
Five more projects are under active consideration for co-financing along with UN and other international agencies.
SDF has authorised capital of USD 1.5 Billion and total capital base of USD 511.52 Million. Currently, SDF is implementing 12 projects under the social window with fund commitment of USD 73.74 million and two more projects are approved in principle in the social sector.
In addition, five projects under the economic and infrastructure windows (including two in-principle approved projects) with a fund commitment of USD 73 million and MSME Programme with a fund allocation of USD 50 million in SAARC Member States. The cumulative fund commitment under the three funding windows including MSME Programme stands at USD 197.4 million. Further, more than 10 bankable projects are also under active consideration of SDF to co-finance in SAARC Member States.