Developing nations need to provide digital solutions for citizens: FM

Addressing G7 meet in Japan, Sitharaman highlighted that access to digital connectivity has empowered people and there is a need to discuss ways to measure empowerment going beyond GDP indicators

Arup Roychoudhury New Delhi
Nirmala Sitharaman

Photo: Twitter @FinMinIndia

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At the G-7 meeting in Japan on Friday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman underlined the need for developing nations to go beyond macroeconomic indicators and growth numbers and focus on empowering people by improving digital connectivity.
This comes at a time when India is using its presidency of G20 to pitch to developing and low-income nations the unified payments interface (UPI) and unique identification (Aadhaar), and help them develop their own versions.

Addressing a G7 seminar on economic policies for welfare in Niigata, Japan, Sitharaman stressed that technology improves access for the poor to markets and basic services and highlighted that access to digital connectivity has empowered people and there is a need to discuss ways to measure empowerment going beyond GDP indicators.
She underlined the dilemmas faced by Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs) between climate security and growth as they manage overlapping crises and socio-economic transformation.

“The Union Finance Minister shared India's focus on technology, digital public infrastructure and green hydrogen as a foundation for sustainable and inclusive growth and as an example of innovative policy toolkits by EMDEs," the Finance Ministry said in a tweet.
"Finance Minister emphasised on the importance of sustainable growth and environment and the need for balancing the two in the short and long run," it said.

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Sitharaman is on a two-day visit (May 11-12) to Japan to attend the G7 meeting of the finance ministers and central bank governors.
As reported earlier, not only is India willing to provide technical expertise to low- and middle-income nations interested in developing or improving their own digital payments systems, but is also willing to finance such efforts. In February, Reserve Bank of India deputy governor T Rabi Sankar had said a number of Commonwealth nations from the Caribbean and South Pacific, and some Latin American countries are interested in using Unified Payments Interface or a similar technology.

In April, India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant had told Business Standard that one of India’s agendas has been to evangelise digital public infrastructure. “We have to realize that there are 4 billion people without a digital identity. There are. 2 1/2 billion people without a bank account. 133 countries do not have a fast payment mechanism. So this is a model which needs to be taken to other parts of the world,” he had said.
On the sidelines of the G7 meet, Sitharaman met International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director K Georgieva and her Brazilian counterpart HaddadFernando, who appreciated India's organisation of the G20 presidency and its piloting of significant global economic issues, the finance ministry said in a tweet.

The two ministers discussed issues relating to infrastructure, strengthening multilateral development banks (MDBs), debt vulnerabilities and digital public infrastructure (DPI).
Sitharaman extended her support for Brazil's upcoming G20 presidency in 2024. The South American nation will hold the G20 presidency from December 1, 2023, to November 30, 2024.

Sitharaman also met Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrenc Wong. Both ministers exchanged their views on strengthening India-Singapore cooperation on issues like digital payment gateway, food security, green transition, skill development, crypto assets, MDB reforms and pandemic preparedness, among others.
During the meeting, she highlighted the emerging role of Artificial Intelligence and skilling programmes in the context of setting up new AI centres. Both ministers discussed ways for collaboration between India-Singapore in AI research and quantum computing.

First Published: May 12 2023 | 9:45 PM IST

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