The process of the 18th Summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation started today with the 49th Programming Committee meeting of the regional bloc in Kathmandu.
The PC discussion recommended reduction of the number of SAARC regional centres from the existing 11 to five. Joint-secretaries from the Ministry of Foreign/External Affairs of all eight SAARC nations led their respective teams at the meeting, which was led by MoFA Joint Secretary Yagya Bahadur Hamal from Nepal.
The Maldives also handed over the PC chair to Nepal. The recommendation will be fully effective by December 2016. Talking to THT, Hamal said the meeting recommended merging four SAARC regional centres — Coastal Zone Management Centre in Male, Forestry Centre in Thimphu, Meteorological Research Centre in Dhaka and the New Delhi-based Disaster Management Centre into a single entity — SAARC Environment and Disaster Management Centre.
and Bangladesh. The PC asked
these member states to come up with detailed concept paper justifying their claim for hosting the new regional centre.
The PC also recommended closing SAARC Information Centre in Kathmandu, Human Resource Development Centre in Islamabad and Documentation Centre in New Delhi.
The last meeting of the PC held in Kathmandu in September had come up with the idea of closing or merging these centres to reduce duplication of work and to make the remaining centres more effective. It has been proposed that the merging and scrapping process will be completed by end of December 2015.
Hamal said assets of the closed centres will be used by the host countries and the staff will be laid off with a golden handshake. Today’s meeting finalised the SAARC Calendar of Activities for 2015 and stated that investment will henceforth focus only on priority areas of cooperation. It also reviewed the status of implementation of the recommendations of earlier meetings.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretaries of all member-states, including India’s Sujatha Singh and other delegates arrived in Kathmandu today for the Standing Committee meeting.
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