APEC finance officials focus on sustainability, digital economy

<p>APEC Finance and central bank deputies convene under the 2022 Finance Ministers’ Process theme of "Advancing Digitalization, Achieving Sustainability". <em>(ANTARA/HO-APEC Secretariat)</em></p>

APEC Finance and central bank deputies convene under the 2022 Finance Ministers’ Process theme of "Advancing Digitalization, Achieving Sustainability". (ANTARA/HO-APEC Secretariat)

JAKARTA – Finance and central bank deputies from the Asia-Pacific region convened to deliberate on policy recommendations to support the transition to sustainable finance and commit to more sustainable economic growth and digital economy.
Under the 2022 Finance Ministers’ Process theme of "Advancing Digitalization, Achieving Sustainability", Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies recognized the risk of climate change and the role of sustainable finance in achieving global targets to curb carbon emissions, as noted in a release issued by APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies and received here on Thursday.
"In the last two years, authorities around the world have diverted their priorities to saving people’s lives and protecting livelihoods, and rightfully so," Krisada Chinavicharana, chair of 2022 APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies Meeting, said. 
"Today, as we navigate life with Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), many of us have realized that sustainability is an integral part of recovery, crucial in building a better future for our people," Krisada said.
The meeting, held virtually on Wednesday and Thursday (March 16-17), heard member economies’ views and best practices on policy instruments for supporting sustainable finance given economies’ fiscal limitations and budget constraints from the pandemic.
APEC members also reflected on the opportunities and costs of adopting more ambitious measures and considered further integrating disaster risk financing into government budgets and a sustainable finance framework.
"As governments, we have the potential to do more, to mobilize resources and make structural changes," Krisada, who is concurrently the Permanent Secretary of Thailand’s Finance Ministry, said.
"We cannot afford to stand still and wait for the private sector to make a move. A collaboration and close partnership between the two is ideal," he added.
The vast growth on the digital front prompted APEC member economies to look into deepening the role of digital technologies for fiscal policy and in inclusive finance.
"During the pandemic, when we were on lockdown, governments have learned to utilize data in order to better allocate and target government assistance or stimulus packages, which are then delivered through digital channels, such as mobile applications or electronic payment platforms," Krisada said.
"We must continue to ride the wave of technology and extend its role in supporting areas, such as payment and remittance services, as well as revenue collection for the government," he said.
Given that the Asia-Pacific is the largest contributor to global payments revenues, Krisada urged member economies to make the most of the momentum and discuss how the trend can be captured for the benefits of financial inclusion while addressing challenges in cross-border transactions.
"This will greatly benefit not only people across the region but also our micro, small and medium enterprises that can benefit from the transparency, openness, and connectivity across the region," he added.
APEC members also heard from international organizations that raised the impact of sanctions and geopolitical tensions as well as increasing commodity prices and inflationary pressures, which will have spillover effects on the region’s economy and prompted adjustment of monetary policies.
The discussion from the two-day finance and central banks deputies’ meeting will be brought forward to the APEC Senior Finance Officials’ Meeting scheduled for June this year.
Their recommendations will be provided to APEC Finance Ministers when they meet in October this year. (Antara)