SAARC chairmanship would bring many dividends to SL - Foreign
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama yesterday told Parliament Sri
Lanka obtaining the chairmanship of SAARC will facilitate further
strengthening of regional cooperation among SAARC countries based on Sri
Lanka’s own agenda.
The Minister speaking in Parliament said Sri Lanka obtaining the
chairmanship of SAARC can be described as a significant event that had
taken place in our country. This will help bring our country to a high
position within the international arena. In addition, this is another
significant victory achieved by the Government of President Mahinda
Bogollagama said under the Leadership of President Rajapaksa, Sri
Lanka has been able to strengthen its Foreign Policy during the past 30
months. Sri Lanka’s representation in the Asian region has shown a
Sri Lanka has also turned into one of the outstanding countries
within the Non-Aligned Movement. SAARC is the only regional organisation
in the world which represents the largest segment of the world’s
Out of the total world population, 23 per cent is represented by
SAARC. Therefore, it is a great achievement for Sri Lanka to obtain the
chairmanship of SAARC.
The Minister said it was proposed to establish a bank within the
SAARC region to alleviate poverty at the 13th SAARC Summit held in
Bangladesh. Agreements will be signed to establish the SAARC Bank at the
15th SAARC Summit to be held in Sri Lanka. Initially Rs. 30,000 million
will be utilised to set up this bank.
The Government has also taken several policy decisions to implement
poverty alleviation programmes in a more productive manner. Bogollagama
said the Government will follow several people-based strategies at this
SAARC Summit. The President in his recent visit to Rome also explained
this to the international community.
The President also proposed to build the regional cooperation by
considering the issue of food security as a regional problem. The 15th
SAARC Summit will submit proposals to address this issue as well.
The Minister said it has been agreed at the 15th SAARC Summit to
provide solutions to the highly increasing fuel prices which has led to
the worsening of the energy crisis.
Sri Lanka will achieve a significant place within the SAARC region
due to the chairmanship obtained by Sri Lanka in SAARC. This has created
an environment to world leaders to visit Sri Lanka. The Minister said
the 15th SAARC Summit will also make a great impact towards the attempts
made by the Government to eradicate terrorism in Sri Lanka.
The Minister categorically denying various allegations made on the
expenditure of SAARC Summit said the Foreign Ministry will spend only Rs.
355 million on SAARC Summit out of this total amount, Rs. 100 million is
spent as capital expenditure. In addition, Rs. 2,100 million has to be
invested on Police Department.
This allocation had to be made to the Police Department in year 2007.
As a country which is facing the terrorism threat, it is the
responsibility of the Government to ensure the security of the world
leaders who attend the Summit.