Top bureaucrats of Saarc countries have agreed to strengthen regional cooperation and ensure greater dissemination of “best practices” among the member states.
They also agreed to cooperate in respect of administrative reforms, enhancing capacity building, performance management and service delivery.
The top civil servants reached the agreement at the two-day meeting, the second of its kind, of the Saarc cabinet secretaries, which concluded here yesterday, with adaptation of a draft report highlighting the areas of future cooperation and outlining ways for implementation of the decisions taken in the meeting.
The first meeting of cabinet secretaries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) was held in New Delhi in 2009.
At a press briefing at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, Bangladesh Cabinet Secretary M Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters that the meeting had been very productive, and the top officials had decided to meet frequently and implement the decisions.
He informed that cabinet secretaries of seven countries -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh (host), Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- attended the meeting, but the Maldives did not take part.
Mosharraf said issues related to optimum use of ICT in improving service delivery, putting e-governance in place, identifying poverty as key enemy and taking coordinated efforts to address it, regional cooperation for effective PPP (public private partnership), reducing gender disparity in primary and secondary education, prudent micro-economic management and inclusive cooperation were discussed, which would be implemented through joint efforts.
He said sharing of best practices of the Saarc countries was the most “exciting” session of the two-day meeting, where the participants presented reports of their respective countries.
Saarc Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa, who was also present at the briefing, said though the regional forum could not fulfill expectations for so many reasons, the leaders of the South Asian nations had been able to prevent conflict in the region.
“If our leaders periodically meet and talk about the development of this region, and the common interest and problems of the region, then we can perform better,” he added.
“We can't compare our region with Asean or the European Union because we have a very brief history,” Thapa said.
He said the member states of the EU had surrendered their sovereignty to the EU. “In our region, our leaders felt that everything should be done on the basis of consensus. I think it was a very wise decision,” he added. The third meeting will be held in Pakistan in 2015.