Chhimi Dema

The Charter (Amendment) of the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) was introduced in the National Council (NC) yesterday after the National Assembly (NA) passed it in the 3rd session of parliament.

Introducing the Charter, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that the government wanted the Article 5 (II) of the SDF Charter changed and, if adopted, it could ease project collaboration among the member states.

The SDF is a regional funding institute to fund projects for regional integration.

Finance Minister said: “With the current Article, it is difficult to implement projects with an interest of more than two member states since priorities of every country are different.”

The Article 5 (II) says: “The resources and facilities may be utilised for funding if projects involve more than two but not all SAARC member states.”

In August 2013, the SDF’s board of directors endorsed the Charter to encourage more collaborative project approval and implementation.

The Governing Council, the highest decision-making body of SDF, approved the amendment of Article 5 (II) of the Charter.

The amended Charter of SDF says: “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 has implemented 11 projects equivalent to USD 9 million through the SDF.

The chairperson economic affairs committee, Anand Rai, said that amendment of the Charter would have positive impact on regional integration through increased project collaboration for the SAARC region.

Anand Rai said: “Enhanced engagement among regional and multi-national organisations is beneficial for smaller and landlocked countries like Bhutan in terms of strengthening our sovereignty and interests.”

The House approved the proposed amendment and will adopt it in a later sitting.