SAARC Programming body meeting discussing re-structuring regional centers

Kathmandu, Nov 22: The 49th meeting of the Programming Committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), that started from 9 am today in Soltee Hotel, Kathmandu, is discussing on re-structuring the regional centres with a special focus on scrapping three SAARC centres and merging four others.

Currently, there are 11 regional centres in operation in SAARC.

The meeting, attended by the joint-secretaries of all the member countries, has recommended phasing out SAARC Information Centre, SAARC Human Resource Development Centre and SAARC Documentation Centre that are in Nepal, Pakistan and India respectively.

Likewise, the Committee has recommended merging SAARC Forestry Centre, SAARC Disaster Management Centre, SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre and SAARC Meteorological Research Centre. These centres are in Bhutan, India, Maldives and Bangladesh respectively.

The final touch would be given to the recommendations by December 2015, Arjun Bahadur Thapa, the Secretary General of the SAARC secretariat told RSS.

The Programming Committe's meeting is the preliminary event in connection to the SAARC Summit where all the agendas and issues are discussed at the first level.

Thereafter, the recommendations made by the joint-secretaries are then sent to the higher bodies.

The meeting started with the handover ceremony of the chairmanship from Maldives, which last hosted the Summit in 2011, to Nepal which is hosting the event this year.      

According to the existing practice, the host country of the SAARC Summit chairs every meeting related to the Summit.

Today's meeting is led by Yagya Bahadur Hamal, the joint-secretary of the SAARC-Division at Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The meeting of the Standing Committee scheduled for November 23 and 24 will prepare the agenda for the Foreign Minister level meeting on November 25.

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