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14 June 2023, 14:00 - 16:00 Indochina Time / Bangkok | Open meeting

policy dialogue

Amid rising government debt levels, higher interest rates, global economic slowdown and heightened geopolitical uncertainty, the risk of public debt distress and debt overhang in developing countries will remain elevated in coming years. At the same time, large financing needs to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate ambitions are adding more pressure on fiscal and debt positions. How developing countries navigate a balancing act between ensuring post-pandemic socioeconomic recovery and pursuing the SDGs, while maintaining public debt sustainability is an important policy consideration.

Too often, developing countries have opted to reduce near-term fiscal risks at the expense of inclusive and sustainable development in the long run. Examples include past episodes of fiscal consolidations to ensure short-term debt sustainability, which resulted in significant income and job losses, rise in poverty and inequalities, and scarring long-term socioeconomic impacts. There is a need to raise awareness that failure to timely and adequately address development deficits and climate risks can jeopardize economic stability and public debt sustainability. Insufficient spending in critical areas, such as health, education, or infrastructure, also undermines long-term potential economic growth and increases vulnerability to shocks.

In this context, ESCAP launched its annual flagship publication “Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2023: Rethinking Public Debt for the SDGs” in April 2023. The report calls for a significant shift in thinking about leveraging public debt for development gains. It argues that developing countries should continue to explore ways to strengthen fiscal positions and view public debt as a powerful tool to promote sustainable development, especially if used judiciously and with a long-term horizon. The Survey 2023 also proposes an innovative approach to long-term public debt sustainability analysis that considers a country’s SDG investment needs and financing strategies along with structural development policies in determining the future trajectories of public debt.For more information on the publication, please visit



14 Jun 2023
Session 1: Opening Remarks

Welcome Remarks

Mr. Chirachai Punkrasin, Executive Director, ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue 

Opening Remarks 

  1. Mrs. Patricia MongkhonvanitDirector-General, Public Debt Management OfficeMinistry of Finance, Royal Thai Government
  2. Dr. Suthad Setboonsarng, Member of the Sub-committee for Follow-up and Assessment of Government Performance, and Director of Somboon Advance Technology PCL
Session 2: Rethinking public debt for the Sustainable Development Goals

Moderator: Mr. Ruhimat Soerakoesoemah, Head of ESCAP Subregional Office for Southeast Asia

This session brings together diverse experts and stakeholders to share ideas on how Asia-Pacific governments can attain the SDGs and climate ambitions while maintaining public debt sustainability. Examples of topics include policies to boost fiscal resources, alternative perspectives on public debt sustainability analysis, and domestic and multilateral actions to address the traditional problem of “too little, too late” sovereign debt restructuring.


Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2023: Rethinking public debt for the SDGs

Mr. Michal Podolski, Associate Economic Affairs Officer, Macroeconomic Policy and Analysis Section, ESCAP


  1. Dr. Ulrich Volz, Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Finance, SOAS, University of London
  2. Dr. Margarita Debuque-Gonzales, Senior Fellow, Philippine Institute for Development Studies
  3. Dr. John Beirne, Vice Chair of Research and Senior Fellow, Asian Development Bank Institute
Session 3: Discussion and Q&A
Mr. Chirachai Punkrasin
Mr. Chirachai Punkrasin
Executive Director, ASEAN Center for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue (ACSDSD)
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Mr. Chirachai Punkrasin joined the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue in April 2022 as Executive Director.

He studied political science and history at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and received a MA in Area Studies (South East Asia) from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He worked as a journalist for three years with The Nation – an English-language daily based in Bangkok, before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand in 1984.

He began his Foreign Service career working on ASEAN issues at the Foreign Ministry’s Department of ASEAN Affairs and then moved to the then Department of Political Affairs where he worked on Thailand’s relations with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He worked on multilateral economic issues during several assignments to the Department of International Economic Affairs. He served as Director-General of the Department of American and South Pacific Affairs from 2009 to 2012 where he was responsible for overseeing Thailand’s relations with the countries in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, South America and the South Pacific.

His overseas postings have included: First Secretary at the Royal Thai Embassy in Manila; secondment as Director (Program) to the APEC Secretariat in Singapore; Deputy Chief of Mission at the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington D.C., and Deputy Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in New York. He served as Thailand’s Ambassador to Mexico (with concurrent accreditation to Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) from 2012 to 2015 and as Ambassador to Australia (with concurrent accreditation to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) from 2015 to 2017.

He retired from government service in 2017.

Mrs. Patricia Mongkhonvanit
Mrs. Patricia Mongkhonvanit
Director-General, Public Debt Management Office, Ministry of Finance, Thailand
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Mrs. Patricia Mongkhonvanit is the Director-General of the Public Debt Management Office, Thai Ministry of Finance. She is responsible for overseeing the public debt management strategy and administration in order to raise funds for government budgetary and development projects as well as playing an important role in developing a domestic bond market.

Mrs. Mongkhonvanit holds a B.A. in Political Science from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, an M.A. in Economics Development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.A., and an LL.M. in Tax from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, U.K.


Dr. Suthad Setboonsarng
Dr. Suthad Setboonsarng
Member of the Sub-committee for Follow-up and Assessment of Government Performance, Director of Somboon Advance Technology PCL
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Member of the Sub-committee for Follow-up and Assessment of Government Performance,

Director of Somboon Advance Technology PCL. 


Former Chairman of the Board of Trustee of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Former Chairman of the Audit Committee, Bank of Thailand

Former Partner, PricewaterHouseCoopers (PwC), Thailand

Former Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN Secretariat

Mr. Ruhimat Soerakoesoemah
Head of ESCAP Subregional Office for Southeast Asia
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Mr. Soerakoesoemah is Head of the Subregional Office for South-East Asia at UN ESCAP. He initiates work on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in eleven member countries, in partnership with governments, international institutions, civil society, and private sector entities. He also leads the cooperation for the UN with ASEAN in the economic and social-cultural areas. Prior to UN ESCAP, he managed economic development programmes and delivered technical assistance in the ASEAN and the Pacific region. He has extensive experience in policy analysis, development cooperation, and regional integration in Asia and the Pacific. 

Michal Podolski
Mr. Michal Podolski
Associate Economic Affairs Officer, Macroeconomic Policy and Analysis Section, ESCAP
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Maggie Debuque
Dr. Margarita Debuque-Gonzales
Senior Fellow, Philippine Institute for Development Studies
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Margarita Debuque-Gonzales is a senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). Her research interests are in the areas of macroeconomics, monetary economics, financial economics, and development. She has published internationally on a range of topics including (subnational) fiscal multipliers in the Philippines; financial conditions indexes and monetary policy in Asia; and the impact of infrastructure in middle-income countries. Prior to joining PIDS, she was an associate professor at the University of the Philippines School of Economics (UPSE), where she headed the financial and international economics committee and the UnionBank Center for Financial and Monetary Economics. She previously served as consultant to various government agencies, including the central bank and the finance department, and international financial institutions. She was also Country Advisor for several years at GlobalSource Philippines, which formed part of an international network of independent economists under GlobalSource Partners New York. Maggie used to be a regular contributor at the business section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s most widely read newspaper, where she won various journalism awards for her special reports and feature articles on the Philippine economy and finance. She obtained her PhD in Economics from UPSE and her BS in Psychology (magna cum laude) also from UP Diliman.

Mr. John Beirne
Dr. John Beirne
Vice Chair of Research and Senior Research Fellow, Asian Development Bank Institute
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John co-heads ADBI’s Research Department, where he leads research on macroeconomics and finance. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals in economics and finance, and has co-authored or coedited several ADBI books. With around 25 years of professional experience and an expertise in international finance and monetary economics, he is a frequent commentator in the media on the macro outlook for Asian economies, at outlets including BBC, Bloomberg, and CNBC. John is also co-managing editor of the ADBI Working Paper Series and serves on the editorial board of the Asian Development Review. Before joining ADBI, John spent over a decade in Germany at the European Central Bank, working mainly on global financial markets, capital flows, and commodities. Prior to that, he worked in academia in the UK and as an economist in the private sector with KPMG in Ireland and the UK. He lectures at the University of Tokyo and Hitotsubashi University in Japan, and holds a PhD in Economics from Brunel University in the UK.


Dr. Ulrich Volz
Dr. Ulrich Volz
Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Finance, SOAS, University of London
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Ulrich Volz is Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Finance at SOAS, University of London. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the German Development Institute, a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Honorary Professor of Economics at the University of Leipzig. At SOAS, he previously served as Head of the Department of Economics and Member of the University’s Executive Board. Ulrich is Chairman of the Japan Economy Network and Co-editor-in-chief of the Asia Europe Journal. Ulrich is a director of the Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment and serves on the Sustainable Finance Advisory Committee of the German Federal Government and the advisory panel of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for German Net Zero (GFANZ). He is a co-chair of the Debt Relief for a Green and Inclusive Recovery initiative and serves on the advisory committee for the Climate/SDGs Debt Swap Mechanism of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. He is a member of the CEPR Sustainable Finance Research and Policy Network and the World Bank’s Green Recovery Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Working Group. Ulrich was Banque de France Chair at EHESS in Paris, and also taught at Peking University, Kobe University, Hertie School of Governance, Freie Universität Berlin, Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, and the Institute of Developing Economies in Tokyo. He spent stints working at the European Central Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and held visiting positions at the University of Oxford, University of Birmingham, ECB, Bank Indonesia, and Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. Ulrich was part of the UN Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System and of the NGFS-INSPIRE Study Group on Biodiversity and Financial Stability. He served on the Advisory Council of the Asian Development Bank Institute and has acted as an advisor to several governments, central banks, international organisations and development agencies on matters of macroeconomic policy, sustainable finance and development.

for more information, please contact

Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development Division +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]
Subregional Office for South-East Asia + 66 22 88 2902 [email protected]
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