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Asean finance ministers agree to roll out Covid-19 vaccination widely: DPM Heng


SINGAPORE - Asean finance ministers have agreed to redouble efforts to roll out vaccination widely in order for their borders to reopen safely.

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To grow their economies, the ministers agreed to strengthen their digital connectivity, especially for cross-border payments, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (March 30).

He said this after the 7th Asean Finance Ministers' and Central Bank Governors' Meeting.

"Many also highlighted how we can build back differently, with a greater emphasis on sustainability and resilience."

Mr Heng met his Asean counterparts and central bank governors through virtual meetings hosted by Brunei, the current Asean chair, on Tuesday.

The last time the ministers met physically was in Chiang Rai in 2019.

The ministers had a full day of discussions on how they can collectively recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, be better prepared for future crises and prosper together as a region, said Mr Heng, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, in a Facebook post.

"While we miss the face-to-face interactions of physical meetings, the virtual meetings were very engaging," he noted.

Also present at one of the meetings were the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, regional multilateral development banks like the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the Asean+3 Macroeconomic Research Office.

Mr Heng said: "As the global order becomes more uncertain, Asean must remain united, work together and collectively chart our way forward.

"We will need to maintain Asean centrality, as we work with partners around the world. In this way, we can build a brighter, greener and more resilient future."

Published : March 31, 2021

By : Calvin Yang The Straits Times/ANN