Kathmandu,23 Nov 2014: SAARC General Secretary Arjun Bahadur Thapa has said that the meetings held in preparation to the SAARC summit have begun the discussions on upgrading the SAARC secretariat.
A meeting of SAARC Programming Committee was held on Saturday while the foreign secretary-level meeting began today.
Talking to the RSS, General Secretary Thapa said the meeting has entered discussions to strengthen the secretariat and give more authority to it in the days ahead.
The meeting is centered to provide more authority to the general secretary to make its role more effective.
He said that the general secretary could only identify the regional and sub-regional programmes but has no authority to monitor, coordinate and implement the programmes.
The meeting held on Saturday has recommended closing different three centres relating to Archiving, Information and Human Recources. The offices of these centres are in Nepal, Pakistan and India respectively.
Similarly, the meeting has recommended merging the Forest Management Disaster Management, the Coastal Areas Management Climate Change Research Centre into Environment and Disaster Management Committee.
The meeting of the programming committee has held first phase discussions on instituting its offices but the place has not been fixed for the office.
The meeting has further decided to develop the new centers effectively.
Secretary General Thapa stated that India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan have expressed desire for the establishment of the new center. As per the information shared by him, the upcoming meeting of the SAARC Programming Committee is likely to take decision on the matter or allocate the right to this regard. Presently, there are 11 active centers in the SAARC forum.
The meeting broadly discussed about how to manage staff and physical properties of those centers recommended for the phase-out plan, their websites and agreements reached with various bodies. The meeting spent more time on the discussions of these above mentioned issues, he added.
The Programming Committee meeting also recommended the SAARC Calendar of activities for 2015.
At the Secretary-level meeting of SAARC Standing Committee that began this morning, General Secretary Thapa is scheduled to present his periodic analytical report on SAARC and the SAARC member states will give their feedback on it.
The meeting will also discuss whether to resume the process of expansion of the size of SAARC observers. The SAARC has presently nine observers including the European Union and China.
Drafts have been prepared for agreements on mutual energy assistance, railway and road transport during the 18th Summit. The Standing Committee will continue for two days. It will then be followed by a ministerial-level meeting.
The 18th SAARC Summit is going to be held in the capital on coming November 26 and 27 with the theme of ‘Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity’.