Bhutan wins bid to host South Asian SAARC fund at Sri Lanka meet

Aug 03, 2008 (LBO) – Bhutan will host the secretariat of a South Asian regional fund that has already collected 307 million dollars in commitments at a summit meeting of regional leaders, Sri Lanka’s foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama said. But 300 million dollars of seed capital is tiny compared to the capital needs of the region and the volumes of money squandered on short-term vote-buying subsidies by regional governments.

In the five months to May this year, Sri Lanka has spent about 138 million dollars on fertilizer subsidies alone and the annual bill is expected to touch 300 million while India is estimated to have spent about 12 billion dollars on fuel subsidies in the past fiscal year.

The fund’s contribution will be according to the size of the country and India has made the largest contribution of 100 million dollars, Bogollagama told reporters Sunday.

The South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) Development Fund would operate from Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. At the start of the summit Bhutan’s prime minister, Lyonchhen Jigmy Y Thinley, offered to host the fund in his country.

He said Bhutan would offer “operational, tax and legal flexibility,” for the fund.

A concluding declaration iss