SAARC restructuring in offing: Secy General Saleem
KATHMANDU, Dec 7: Amid criticisms from various quarters that the regional body had largely failed to meet the objectives as envisaged in its charter, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Secretariat has begun a study to recommend ways to make it a vibrant and dynamic regional body.
Addressing a media briefing organized at the SAARC secretariat on the eve of 28th SAARC Charter Day that falls on Saturday, Secretary General Ahmed Saleem said the study is being conducted in line with the directives of the 17th SAARC Summit.
“Member states have entrusted the SAARC Secretariat with undertaking a comprehensive study to recommend ways and means to streamline, rationalize, restructure and strengthen all SAARC mechanisms and processes, including the Secretariat, 11 regional centers and four SAARC specialized bodies,” he said.
(Photo: Bhashwor Ojha)
Secretary General Saleem said the outcomes of the study will be presented to the Inter-Summit Session of the SAARC Council of Ministers scheduled to be held in Maldives in February next year. "SAARC Secretariat has to be given more powers and all member states should be able to forge consensus on all major decisions. It is the member states which are responsible for making the SAARC effective," he noted.
Highlighting the progress made after the 17th SAARC Summit, Saleem said SAARC has started to work on improved connectivity among member states in view of promoting intra-regional trade and movement of people across the region. While the intergovernmental mechanism is currently engaged with the preparatory works to launch the Indian Ocean Cargo and Passenger Ferry Service involving India, Maldives and Sri Lanka, he said that member states are pursuing vigorously to finalize the Regional Railway Agreement and the Motor Vehicles Agreement.
Saleem said that SAARC member states are currently making concerted efforts to finalize the SAARC Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investment in a bid to enhance greater flow of financial capital in the region.
“All member states have now ratified the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services, a notification to which effect was issued by the secretariat only last week," he said, adding that SAARC Agreement on Recognition of Conformity Assessment and SAARC Agreement on Implementation of Regional Standards await the process of ratification by member states.
Saleem mentioned that SAARC had made significant achievements on the implementation of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), poverty alleviation, food and nutritional security and common fight against trafficking of women and children for prostitution and promotion of child welfare in South Asia.
"Though SAARC may not have been able to achieve all that it could or should have during the past 27 years, it certainly has brought its members closer ever over a common platform to address common issues, thereby promoting trust and confidence among one another," he further said.