HBL calls for green, inclusive development at SCO-IBC meeting
TOSHKENT, Aug 23 (China Economic Net) – Habib Bank Limited, the largest commercial bank in Pakistan, participated in the 18th Council Meeting of the SCO Interbank Consortium (SCO-IBC) held on Tuesday (23rd) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Speaking at the annual meeting, HBL Chairman Sultan Ali Allana termed it “imperative to prioritise sustainable development goals.” As part of its commitment to the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), HBL has worked with China to develop green lending activities and loan management framework by adopting the China – EU Green Taxonomy, the chairman revealed. He noted that the initiative, which will be completed this year, is to “position HBL to access international funding, including perhaps being able to issue a green bond in China’s capital market.”
As per Allana, amid great changes in regional trade, logistics and food security, it is of “utmost urgency” to develop a regional clearing system to facilitate trade among SCO member countries. “Perhaps we can start with using one of two of the regional currencies for trade amongst the member countries and in the long term we can work towards developing a regional currency,” he said.
Allana also called for a financial inclusion agenda which can cover a wider population mix and provide access to the underprivileged. Drawing on China’s use of technology to lift millions of people out of poverty, he shared that HBL has also taken “revolutionary” steps “to double our customer base through innovative digital solutions.”
Joining SCO-IBC as a partner bank in August 2014, HBL was elevated as a member bank during the 14th annual council meeting of SCO-IBC in 2018, a year after Pakistan became a member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Over the years, HBL has played a unique role in the region, facilitating trade, investment, and finance between SCO member countries, not the least in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Since the inception of CPEC in 2013, HBL established a dedicated China coverage team in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad consisting of Chinese and Pakistani bankers to provide financial services exclusively to Chinese companies. In 2016, the bank set up a branch in the Gwadar Free Zone (GFZ) for Chinese investors and individuals building factories in the zone.
Driven by the high-quality development of the second phase of CPEC, HBL has made forays into innovative and diversified financial services. In 2019, for example, HBL became one of the first institutions to sign the Green Investment Principles (GIP) for the Belt and Road along with other 27 global institutions, promoting green finance and investment in CPEC projects.
The meeting was also attended by the heads of leading development institutions of the SCO member states, representatives of the SCO Secretariat and the partner banks of SCO IBC.
Established in 2005, SCO-IBC currently has eight member banks including HBL, and two partner banks.