The SAARC committee today decided to dissolve three regional centres, including one in India, and merge four others to end the duplication of work and reduce its budget.
The 49th meeting of the programming committee comprises of joint secretaries of the SAARC countries.
The centres that would be dissolved include the Information Centre in Kathmandu, Human Resource Development Centre in Islamabad and the New Delhi-based Documentation Centre, according to officials at the Foreign Ministry.
The move aims to end the duplication of work carried out by the regional centres and to economise the budget of the centres, the officials said.
The meeting also decided to merge the SAARC Forestry Centre in Bhutan, Disaster Management Centre in New Delhi, Coastal Zone Management Centre in Maldives and Meteorological Research Centre in Dhaka into a single body.
It has also decided to set up a SAARC Environment and Disaster Management Centre.
The decision would bring down the total number of regional centres from 11 to five.
The other centres, including the SAARC Agriculture Centre in Dhaka (established in 1988), the Tuberculosis Centre in Kathmandu (1982), the Energy Centre in Pakistan (2006) and the Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka (2009), will remain intact.
The implementation of the closure and merger of the centres will be completed by December 2016.
The meeting was held by Aishath Liusha Zahir, chair of the programming committee and the leader of the delegation from the Maldives.
Yagya Bahadur Hamal, the leader of the Nepalese delegation, was elected chair of the committee.
The Foreign Secretaries from SAARC member countries have reached Kathmandu to attend the meeting of the Standing Committee beginning from tomorrow.
The issues discussed during the Joint Secretary level meeting included a proposed calendar of SAARC activities for 2015 and the status of implementation of the committee’s earlier recommendations.
The report to be prepared by the SAARC Programming Committee will be submitted to the 41st Standing Committee Meeting scheduled to take place on November 23 and 24 in Kathmandu.
In the 18th Summit, SAARC leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will discuss issues ranging from counter terrorism and peace and security in the region to
agriculture and rural development.
Representatives from the eight member countries, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, along with observers from nine other nations will take part in the meet.