Chhimi Dema

A member country of the SAARC, the regional organisation with eight member countries, could propose for a project to the SAARC Development Fund (SDF).

The National Council unanimously agreed to amend Article 5 (II) of the Charter of SAARC Development Fund (SDF) Amendment 2020 during the adoption of the Charter yesterday.

Section II of Article 5 of the Charter initially approved a project if the project involved more than two but not all SAARC member states. The amended Charter brought down the number of countries to one or more than one.

The new sections states that,  “The resources and facilities may be utilised for funding projects involving any one or more than one member states with the direct benefit going to more than one member state.”

Bhutan is the last country among the member countries to amend the Charter.

The amendment, economic affairs committee chairperson, Anand Rai, said is expected to encourage more feasible projects for approval and implementation for regional integration.

The paid-up capital of the SDF is USD 300million (M).  Anand Rai said that the country made the assessed contribution, dues countries pay to be a member of an organisation, of USD 15M to the SDF.

The SDF supports projects from the social, economic and infrastructure funding window. The economic window caters to fund non-infrastructural projects related to trade and industrial development, agriculture, service sector and, science and technology.

The infrastructure window funds projects related to energy, power, transportation, telecommunications, environment, tourism and other infrastructure areas.

The social window funds are utilised on projects of poverty alleviation and social development focusing on education, health, human resources development and, support vulnerable or disadvantaged segments of society.

Bhutan has implemented 11 projects equivalent to USD 9 million through the SDF.

Some of the projects through SDF in the country were the purchase of new ATR aircraft for Drukair Corporation worth USD 13M and a project to create employment and economic activities using ICT called Empowering Rural Communities: Reaching the Unreached.

The SDF social window funded a project on Post- Harvest Management and Value Addition of Fruits in Production Catchments in SAARC Countries as well.

Anand Rai said the Ministry of Finance through the foreign ministry would convey the amendment to the SAARC Secretariat for the deposit of instruments of acceptance with the Secretary-General of SAARC.