The second SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Insurance Regulators' Meet and International Conference concluded here on Wednesday.
The aim of the conference was to develop a sound, stable and inclusive financial sector across the entire SAARC region through collaboration and learning from experiences of each other and of more developed markets.
The first of its kind in the history of Pakistan's insurance industry, the two-day conference was organised by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
Pakistan has been awarded chairmanship of SAARC Insurance Regulator Forum by member countries as Mohammed Asif Arif, the Commissioner Insurance SECP has been appointed as the Chairman of the SAARC Insurance Regulators Forum, which will serve as the centre for all activities for extending support and cooperation among the SAARC member countries.
A very unique theme "Local to Global" had been set for the conference: which envisaged the idea of enhanced cooperation among the SAARC region countries and collaboration in the field of insurance and finance: beyond the borders.
Arif said that the fast expanding consumer base of more than 185 million people would reveal the huge unleashed potential in Pakistan market to the foreign delegates.
"Many new partnerships will come up because people are interacting, people are meeting each other. Foreign companies are meeting Pakistani companies. So, many new products will come up,"said Mohammed Asif Arif, Chairman of the SAARC Insurance Regulators Forum and the Commissioner Insurance SECP
The senior representatives of international bodies like The World Bank, The Asian Development Bank, the International Organization of Insurance Supervisors, to name a few, were the part of conference. Besides, insurance gurus from Philippines, Turkey, United Arab Emirate and SAARC countries also presented their papers.
During the course of the event an elite panel of local and foreign insurers, brokers, regulators and other subject experts deliberated on a range of relevant topics including Micro insurance, Risk based supervision, Disaster and catastrophe insurance, Regional integration and reinsurance, Tactful market development, Consumer protection and code of conduct, and general market development.
"Among SAARC countries we have so many things in common, the kind of economy, the kind of poverty, the kind of economic development, the kind of risks we have like floods, earthquake is common, and this is annual feature. And the kind of economy we have is basically agrarian economy, and also the service sector. There are so many things in common that these SAARC countries can stand together, gain from each other's experience, share the resources, the thought processes, and the insurances leveraging can be done in a big way," said Director and General Manager of General Manager of General Insurance Corporation of India, Yugandhara Rao.
The presence of large number of foreign professionals from around the world will open new arenas of opportunities for the local as well as foreign investors through showcasing the resilience and rapid growth of the insurance industry of Pakistan.
The finance and insurance sector of Pakistan has proved its resilience and competence by maintaining good health during economic depression in the country. These sectors contributed 5.2 percent in the overall growth in the services sector in 2013.
This sector recorded a growth of 6.6 percent in 2013 against 1 percent recorded in the preceding year. Through the assembly of this conference: the foreign delegates will be able to know about liberal investment policy of Pakistan in the financial sector.
"In the global village, SAARC being a large population, large number of the younger generation here, and insurable situation is much better but we have not exploited that. In that context I feel that this kind of a conference will really put forward and open the eyes of all the authorities who are in the SAARC region where they will take the exploitation of the whole insurance industry and become a very big market as far as SAARC is concerned," said Nalin Attygalle, Marketing and Management Consultant from JP All Island, Sri Lanka.
According to a press release from SECP, the insurance market in Pakistan is fairly liberalized as 100 percent foreign ownership and control of insurance companies is permitted with paid up capital requirements as USD4 million with the condition of bringing in at least a minimum of USD 2 million in foreign exchange and raising an equivalent amount from the local market.
The minimum capital requirements have been increased in a phased manner though they still remain attractive at 300 million Pakistani rupees for non-life and 500 million Pak rupees for life insurers.
The current penetration level of 0.93 percent in insurance reveals the untapped potential of the insurance market in Pakistan. The SECP representatives expect that adequate regulatory provisions in insurance sector of Pakistan would give added confidence to the investors.
SECP initiatives include a continuous review of the existing legislations and the formulation of new statutes in line with best international practices and global standards.
The first SAARC Insurance Regulators' Meet and International Conference was held in April 2013 in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.