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Cablegate: 256th Session of the Colombo Plan Council

VZCZCXRO6568
RR RUEHPB
DE RUEHLM #1371/01 2771204
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041204Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6923
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 3294
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0975
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1429
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0446
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0091
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7433
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0605
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 1348
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 5571
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0334
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 1540
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0009
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 0968
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3196
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0806
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA 0015
RUEHUM/AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR 0032
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE 0232
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0020
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 8028
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 001371

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/INS, SCA/RA, IO/T, INL/C/CJ
STATE FOR INL/RM PAMELA THORN

E.O 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SNAR SOCI ECON EAID CE
SUBJECT: 256TH SESSION OF THE COLOMBO PLAN COUNCIL

REF: A) SECSTATE 128839 B) COLOMBO 934

1. (U) SUMMARY: On September 27, 2007, The Colombo Plan Council
convened for the 256th Session and discussed FY 2005/6 audited
accounts, the 2006/7 draft annual report, a special paper on
"Strategic Plan of The Colombo Plan 2025," and the needs assessment
questionnaire. Ambassador Blake presented to The Colombo Plan a
check for US $185,706 to support the Afghan Women's Shelter Project.
End summary.

2. (U) The 256th Session of The Colombo Plan was held on 27
September 2007, and chaired by incoming Secretary-General Patricia
Yoon-Moi Chia and President Shahzad A. Chaudry, High Commissioner of
Pakistan. Council attendees included the Ambassadors of Burma,
Maldives, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, United States, and
representatives from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan,
South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Participants adopted the
Minutes of the 255th Session and the Special Session held on 18 June
2007, adding an observation from the representative of Japan that
the process for selecting the Secretary General should be more
transparent. Ambassador Blake stated that to continue harping on a
decision based on a constitutionally correct process would hinder
The Colombo Plan's mission and operations. The Pakistani High
Commissioner concurred.

INSUFFICIENT FUNDING
--------------------

3. (U) The Council approved the accounts for the fiscal year July
2005 to June 2006, which was audited by the Auditor General of Sri
Lanka. The President highlighted to the Council the unauthorized
transfer of US $500,000 from the Secretarial Reserves to the
Programming Budget which resulted in a FY 2005/06 deficit of US
$427,941. Presently, there is approximately US $350,000 left in the
Reserves which is sufficient to meet the recurring expenses of the
Secretariat for only one year. The Reserve Fund acts as a buffer

SIPDIS
since there are delays in payment of the subscription fees due to
the different budgetary cycles of the member states. The
Secretariat plans to build up the Reserve to cover at least three

SIPDIS
years of expenditure, and will not transfer additional funds for
program activities until adequate reserves have been built up. In
FY 2005, only 11 out of 25 members paid their mandatory
subscriptions on time. The Bangladesh representative informed the
Council that it will start contributing again for this coming FY
2007. The President and Secretary General specifically thanked the
U.S. for its timely and generous contribution. The President and
Secretary General then appealed for member countries to pay their

SIPDIS
pledges and any additional contributions on time. The President
also stressed the need for more transparency in the relationship
between the Secretary General and the Administrative and Financial
Committee.

4. (U) The Secretary General presented the Financial Status for FY
2006/7. According to the report, the current Programming Budget is
divided as follows:

Drug Advisory Program (DAP): 82 percent
South-South Technical Cooperation/Data Bank (SSTC): 10 percent
Program for Private Sector Development (PSD): 5 percent
Program for Public Administration (PPA): 1 percent
Long Term Scholarship Program (LTSP): 1 percent
Program on Environment (ENV): 1 percent

The Secretary General noted that only the DAP was satisfactorily
funded, while the remaining programs were experiencing diminished
funding from the donor countries. Aside from the DAP and PPSD, all
other programs were at risk of insufficient funding to operate after
FY 2007.

COLOMBO 00001371 002 OF 003

STRATEGIC PLAN 2025
-------------------

5. (U) The Secretary General presented a paper outlining her vision
of The Colombo Plan for the next eighteen years to year 2025, the
75th anniversary of The Colombo Plan. The paper laid out strategies
for each program and listed recommendations on how to strengthen and
expand The Colombo Plan's operations and infrastructure.
The President proposed that the recommendations be divided into four
categories:

a) Reinforcing Existing Measures
-- Recommendations will be anchored and/or modeled on existing
programs separate from the Colombo Plan, that have been successfully
implemented by member states.

b) New Measures
-- New programs and courses will be based on the Needs Assessment
Questionnaire (see 5D below)

c) Structural Change
-- Recommendations included fundraising (voluntary contributions;
new sources of income; private sector partnership initiatives;
cost-sharing projects); membership expansion (to include Brunei,
China, Timor Leste, and former members Britain, Canada and
Cambodia); strengthening the Secretariat's monitoring and evaluation
mechanism; boosting the Secretariat's manpower; seeking
international voluntary officers to be seconded to the Secretariat;
and the establishment of a permanent Headquarters.

-- The Council briefly discussed the restructuring of the
Consultative Committee Meeting (CCM) to include Ministerial
participation. The Ambassador of the Philippines and the
representative from India supported participation of the Ministers
arguing that it could raise interest and secure more funding for
Colombo Plan activities. The Ambassador to Nepal stated his
preference to keep the CCM at the functional level, absent of
Ministers. The President concluded that the Council should first
focus on the needs assessment questionnaire and to later re-evaluate
the CCM.

d) Needs Assessment Questionnaire
-- Member Countries were requested to complete the questionnaire to
identify gaps and assess needs for Colombo Plan programs. The
Survey is due 15 November 2007, and will be discussed at the next
Colombo Plan meeting on 22 November 2007.

DRUG ADVISORY PROGRAM
---------------------

6. (U) According to the Draft Annual Report of the Colombo Plan for
FY 2006/2007, the Drug Advisory Program (DAP) funded 15 drug demand
reduction projects. The report stated that 6,471 participants have
benefited from the DAP, which is more than half the total number of
participants in Colombo Plan programs. Council recommendations for
the Drug Advisory Program:
-- Conduct annual consultations
-- Develop ISO standards and guidelines
-- Develop and maintain teams of Master Trainers
-- Support and assist governments in early identification of drug
dependents
-- Promote and support treatment programs in prisons
-- Assist governments in conducting public information campaigns
-- Produce reference materials, guide books and manuals
-- Cooperate with donors for regional/sub-regional programs and
participation of non-members.


COLOMBO 00001371 003 OF 003


7. (U) In accordance with ref A, this cable confirms that Ambassador
Blake presented to the Colombo Plan a check for US $185,706 to
support the Drug Advisory Program's Afghan Women's Shelter Project.


8. COMMENT: Secretary General Chia, who arrived in August, seems
determined and well on her way to breathing new life into the
Colombo Plan through better organization, new ideas, and broader
membership and participation. The U.S.-funded Drug Advisory Program
continues to be the Colombo Plan's most successful and dynamic
program.
BLAKE

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