Press Release

SAARC Information Centre (SIC), Kathmandu, in coordination with the Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, organized a ‘Media Exchange Programme in Islamabad on 5-6 July 2011.  Dr. Firdous Aashiq Awan, Pakistan’s Minister of Information & Broadcasting, inaugurated the Programme as the Chief Guest.  At the conclusion of the Programme, the following recommendations were made:

  1. Every meeting and seminar or workshop organized by SIC should start with Action Taken Report on the status of previous related recommendations.
  2. SIC may write to the member countries to examine the possibilities of instituting at least one internship and one fellowship for media persons from other SAARC countries. These can be sponsored either by the governments or financed by the private sector groups or by the educational institutions. In case, sponsorships are not forthcoming, a fund may be set aside for the purpose in the SIC budget.
  3. Regular Annual meeting of Information Ministers needs to be revived. The matter may be taken up on the priority basis with the higher bodies of SAARC through SIC GB.
    Information and Broadcasting Secretaries of the member countries should meet to review the status of recommendations of various bodies pertaining to media exchange.
    Member countries may designate a coordinating officer to liaise with SIC. Special allowances for the incumbent will be provided by SIC. The incumbent should have a fixed tenure of at least two years.
  4. SIC should request the member countries to facilitate down-linking of channels, specially the national public broadcasters from the member countries in concurrence with local laws. It will contribute to the spirit of ‘building bridges’- the theme of forthcoming SAARC Summit.
  5. SIC shall approach the member countries for compilation of rules and guidelines regarding conducting media exchanges (such as permission for shooting, investment, content sharing or any other related activity) and the compilations will be made available on SIC website.
  6. A SAARC media award may be instituted. Nominations may be invited through open advertisement on SIC website and related platforms in the member states. Guidelines and modalities of the award shall be circulated among the member countries before adoption. SIC will be the nodal agency.
  7. SIC’s presence on social media network need to be established. SIC shall create a Facebook page. SIC will also create presence on Twitter, You Tube and blogs.
  8. Link of SIC website shall be on the websites of the coordinating ministries of the member states.
  9. SAARC News Network for news agency level cooperation need to be established.

As part of introductory visits to Member States, H. E. Uz. Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, Secretary-General of SAARC, visited Sri Lanka from 20 to 22 June 2011.

While in Colombo, H. E. Uz. Dhiyana Saeed called on H. E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka. During the meeting, the President conveyed his Government’s firm commitment to making SAARC a vibrant organization for the common good of the peoples of South Asia.

During the visit, the Secretary-General also called on H. E. Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka. At the meeting, the Minister and the Secretary-General exchanged views on a wide range of issues pertaining to regional cooperation under the auspices of SAARC.

H. E. Uz. Dhiyana Saeed also met H. E. Mr. K. Amunugama, Secretary/External Affairs of Sri Lanka. At the meeting, the Secretary-General expressed her gratitude to the Government of Sri Lanka for endorsing her appointment as the tenth Secretary-General of SAARC. The Foreign Secretary and the Secretary-General also exchanged views on SAARC matters, particularly those relating to intra-regional trade and intra-regional connectivity.

While in Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General also visited the SAARC Cultural Centre and held discussions with its Director and staff.

Since assuming office in March this year, Secretary-General Dhiyana Saeed has paid introductory visits to the Maldives, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, and is expected to pay a visit to Afghanistan in the first week of July. She has also paid introductory calls on the high dignitaries in Nepal.

On an official visit to Maldives, the SAARC Secretary General H.E. Uz. Fathimath Dhiyana Saaed visited SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre on 14th June 2011. During her visit she met the Director and the staff of the Centre. Mr. Hassan Shifaau, Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maldives and Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree, Director SAARC attended the meeting. Director of the Centre, Dr. Shiham thanked the Secretary General for visiting the Centre and expressed appreciation for the opportunity to discuss the issues to the Centre with Secretary General.

During the meeting she interacted with the officials of the Centre and assessed the Centre’s working and performance. She highlighted that being a Centre of excellence its expected that the Centre should develop and implement programme and make significant contribution to meet the emerging environmental challenges and concerns in the region particularly in relation to coastal zones. The Director of the Centre, Dr. M. Shiham Adam briefly appraised the Secretary General on the ongoing programme activities of the Centre including the programme implementation and achievements during the current year. He also highlighted and pressed upon the problems faced by the Centre in programme implementation and recruitment of suitable staff. Madame Secretary General highlighted the need and relevance for developing partnership with local government and civil society organizations in programme implementation of the Centre.

At the end of meeting, the Secretary General suggested to the Director to come up with plan of action to enhance the capacity of the centre to make meaningful contribution in area of coastal zone management in the region.

The Fifth Meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council was hosted by Maldives in Male on 13th June 2011. All SAARC Member States participated in the meeting. While Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka were represented by their concerned ministers; Nepal and Pakistan were represented by the concerned Secretaries of their respective Ministries.

The Ministerial Meeting was preceded by the Sixth Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts and the Sixth Meeting of the SAFTA Sub-group on Non-tariff Measures which were held on 11th and 12th June, 2011.  The Secretary General of SAARC inaugurated the meetings of SAFTA Ministerial Council and the SAFTA Committee of Experts. Maldives as the host chaired all the meetings.

The SAFTA Ministerial Council adopted the reports of the Sixth Meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts and the Sixth Meeting of the SAFTA Sub-group on Non-tariff Measures.

Some of the important decisions and understandings arrived at the meetings are as follows:

  1. The sensitive lists are to be pruned down as much as possible. Before the next SAARC Summit, at least 20 percent reduction in the current list is to be done. Based on request from other countries, attempts toward further reduction in the sensitive list will be made by each member country.
  2. Bangladesh will finalise terms of reference for a study on how to increase exports of items from Least Developing Countries to the non-Least Developing Countries after it receives inputs from other Least Developing Countries.Afghanistan has formally been inducted into the SAFTA Trade Libralisation Programme (TLP). The provisions of the TLP will be applicable to Afghanistan with effect from 7th August 2011 as per the notification issued by the SAARC Secretariat. Afghanistan will be presenting a linear tariff reduction schedule for consideration of member states in this regard.
  3. It was observed that the TLP plan is progressing as provided for in the SAFTA.
  4. For better trade prospects in the region, the Member States should make their offers on the principle of GATS plus while conducting negotiations under SAARC agreement on trade in services.
  5. With regard to sub-group on non-tariff measures, it was noted that the major work of submitting notifications on NTMs/PTMs, responses and counter-responses has been completed. Therefore the remaining work of the group will be taken over by the SAFTA committee of experts.
  6. The next meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council will be held in Islamabad, Pakistan