The Forty-third Session of the Programming Committee concluded at the SAARC Secretariat, Kathmandu on 5 January 2013. The meeting which was participated in by all the Member States was chaired by H. E. Mr. Hassan Shifau, Permanent Secretary of the Republic of Maldives.
Convening after a gap of over a year, the three-day session of the Committee had before it several important issues having a bearing on regional cooperation. Among other things, the Committee considered a number of Reports of the Governing Boards of SAARC Regional Centres and Expert Groups’ meetings that were held after the Seventeenth Summit. The Committee also finalized the Calendar of Activities for the year 2013.
H. E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary-General of SAARC, also addressed the opening session of the Programming Committee. Highlighting the significant achievements of SAARC since the last Summit, the Secretary-General said, “Since the Seventeenth Summit held in Addu City, Maldives, in November 2011, SAARC has shown clear signs of closer cooperation in many fronts. Trade under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) has already crossed the US$ 2 billion mark; the South Asian University has produced the first batch of graduates last August; the SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme now covers 24 categories of persons who are entitled to visa free travel within the region.”
The Programming Committee comprises the Heads of SAARC Divisions of the Ministries of Foreign/External Affairs of the Member States of SAARC. It is a subsidiary body that reports to the Standing Committee of Foreign Secretaries.
In addition to the Directors from the SAARC Secretariat, the Directors of all the Regional Centres also attended the Committee’s Session that was held at the Secretariat from 3 to 5 January 2013.