Federation of Chambers of
Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka

FCCISL Commemorates 25th SAARC Charter Day

Twenty Five years ago, the Heads of State of the seven South Asian countries signed a Charter to establish the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). SAARC is an Association based on the consciousness that in an increasingly inter-dependent world, the objectives of peace, economic prosperity and social justice are best achieved in South Asia by fostering mutual understanding, good neighbourly relations and meaningful cooperation among Member States, bound by the ties of history, common values and deep-rooted cultural bonds.

SAARC has been committed from its very inception to comprehensive programmes of cooperation that cover the economic, technical, scientific, social and cultural fields. It has, over the years, worked steadily on building its institutional structures. SAARC is now embarking on greater connectivity in the context of intra-regional and people-to-people contact. This will culminate in greater strides in the coming years in sharing the pursuits of education, health and economic empowerment.

Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) felt that it is now essential as we embark on the implementation phase of SAARC, to re-commit ourselves to the ideals and objectives of SAARC to make our region secure and prosperous. In this context, FCCISL together with several other Govt. officials celebrated 25th SAARC Charter Day on December 8, 2009 by donating 100 Na plants to Vihara Maha Devi Park which operates under Colombo Municipal Council and also planted 6 plants at the same venue. Officials of SAARC Country High Commissions, members of the board of FCCISL and other invitees also attended.

Sri Lanka welcomes the efforts taken by SAARC member states to address the issue of poverty, which has been rightly identified as one of the overarching goals of SAARC. South Asia is heir to vast asymmetries within countries. The poverty alleviation programmes being pursued in each of the individual South Asian countries can be strengthened through regional initiatives, as well as by linking up with multilateral objectives such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Moving ahead with the SAARC poverty agenda will require vertically bringing together the current national, regional and global programmes.

SAARC has attached high priority to the promotion of people to people contacts in the region to strengthen goodwill and foster better understanding. In this context, we are pleased to have taken a leadership role in the exemption of visas for SAARC nationals to visit Sri Lanka for purposes of business and tourism. Over the years, a number of SAARC professional bodies have forged regional networks of active cooperation. As a result of their constructive activities, these professional associations have strengthened intra-SAARC interaction through non-official channels said Mr. Kosala Wickramanayake, President, FCCISL at the ceremony.

The observance of the SAARC Charter Day will further consolidate our unity of purpose and our broader South Asian identity.