YK Poudel  

High-ranking government officials, resident ambassadors, heads of international organizations, civil society representatives and implementing agencies of SDF-funded projects gathered to mark the 38th SAARC Charter Day in Thimphu yesterday.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma, the chief guest of the event, said, “Bhutan, as a founding member of SAARC and a country that deeply values its membership to the association, we have always strived to participate and contribute to the SAARC process to the best of our abilities.”

Lyonpo said that SAARC has seen substantial progress but there have also been a lot of challenges.  “There is so much potential in terms of economy and intra-regional trade, of which we are harnessing only about 5 percent.”

“As the region looks to revive economies and sustain its populations, we must embrace the spirit of regional collaboration to address these challenges,” he said.

For the purpose of the strategic development of the South Asian area since its inception in 1985, the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) has taken a variety of actions, including establishing partnerships with key players to launch joint initiatives and co-finance projects.

Officer-in-Charge of SDF, Satya Shiva Saswat, said that the SDF as a major financial institution for SAARC projects and programs is fully committed to promoting “Regional Integration and Economic Cooperation among the SAARC Member States through project funding and collaboration.”

About 100 projects, he said, are approved by the SDF board and are under implementation in all the SAARC member States under its social, economic and infrastructure funding windows with a fund commitment of over USD 134 million.

SDF’s capital base is more than USD 600 million with an authorised capital of USD 1.5 billion.

SAARC Development Fund Secretariat was established in April 2010. SAARC was established with the signing of its Charter on December 8, 1985, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.