The board project appraisal committee has approved Drukair’s project to buy an ATR aircraft worth almost USD 13 million as the first project under the economic sector.

The project would be considered at the board meeting on December 19.

The SAARC Development Fund (SDF) chief executive officer, Dr Sunil Motiwal said the fund is also considering Drukair’s project to procure an Airbus and has also received a funding request for aircraft from Bhutan Airlines.

“I think Bhutan is going to derive maximum benefit from the SDF,” Dr Motiwal said.

Bhutan is also one of the largest recipients of grant from SDF in the social sector.

“The SDF will also fund country-specific projects mainly micro, small and medium enterprises from January next year,” he said.

Social sector committed more than USD 74 million and has disbursed USD 47 million for projects in the South Asian countries.

As of today, SDF has committed more than USD 100 million for projects in infrastructure and economic sectors.

To commemorate the 34th SAARC Charter Day, SDF team also joined government officials in Thimphu to lit 1,000 butter lamps at the Kuenray, of the Tashichhodzong.

Addressing a gathering at the programme to observe the day, Dr Sunil Motiwal said, “SDF, as an umbrella financial institution for SAARC project and programmes is fully committed to promote regional cooperation and integration through project funding and collaboration.”

A drama presentation on “Victory of the Spirit of South Asia” and a musical celebration of the SAARC member states were also performed.

The fund serves as the umbrella financial institution for SAARC projects and programmes which are in fulfillment of the objectives of the SAARC and SDF Charter. It is aimed to contribute to “Regional Cooperation and Integration through Project Funding and Collaboration”.

SDF Charter promotes the welfare of the people of SAARC Region, improving the quality of life and accelerating economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the SAARC Region through financing and implementation of development projects.

SAARC Heads of State or Government signed the Charter establishing SAARC on December 8 in 1985 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In April 2010, the SDF Secretariat was established in Thimphu.

Tshering Palden