The Colombo Plan
is a regional organization that embodies the concept of collective inter-governmental effort to strengthen economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. The primary focus of all Colombo Plan activities is on human resources development.
The organization was born out of a Commonwealth
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...
Conference of Foreign Ministers, held in Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...
, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...
, in January 1950. At this meeting, a was established to provide a framework within which international cooperation efforts could be promoted to raise then standards of people in the region. Originally conceived as lasting for a period of six years, the Colombo Plan was extended several times until 1980, when it was extended indefinitely. Initially it was called the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia. It has grown from a group of seven Commonwealth nations - Australia, Britain, Canada, Ceylon, India, New Zealand and Pakistan - into an international organization of 26, including non-Commonwealth countries. When it adopted a new constitution in 1977, its name was changed to "The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific" to reflect the expanded composition of its enhanced membership and the scope of its activities. In the early years, Colombo Plan assistance from developed to developing countries comprised both transfer of physical capital and technology as well as a strong component of skills development. Hence, while infrastructure by way of airports, roads, railways, dams, hospitals, fertilizer plants, cement factories, universities, and steel mills were constructed in member countries through Colombo Plan assistance, a large number of people were simultaneously trained to manage such infrastructure and the growing economies.
The "Plan" is not meant to be an integrated master plan to which national plans were expected to conform. It is, instead, a framework for bi-lateral arrangements involving foreign aid and technical assistance for the economic and social development of the region.
- To promote interest in and support for the economic and social development of Asia and the Pacific;
- To promote technical cooperation and assist in the sharing and transfer of technology among member countries;
- To keep under review relevant information on technical cooperation between the member governments, multilateral and other agencies with a view to accelerating development through cooperative effort;
- To facilitate the transfer and sharing of the developmental experiences among member countries within the region with emphasis on the concept of South-south cooperation
The Organizational Structure Of The Colombo Plan
The principal organs of the Colombo Plan are - the Consultative Committee, the Council and the Secretariat. Administrative costs of the Council and Secretariat are borne equally by the 25 member countries.
- The Consultative Committee (CCM), comprises all member governments and is the highest review and policy making body of the Colombo Plan. Its biennial meetings provide a forum for the exchange of views on current development problems facing member countries and review the work of the Colombo Plan in economic and social development within the region.
- The Colombo Plan Council, comprises heads of diplomatic missions of member governments who are resident in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The President of the Council is nominated from among member countries annually on an alphabetical rotational basis. The Council meets every quarterly to identify important development issues facing its members and ensure the smooth implementation of the Consultative Committee's decisions.
- The Colombo Plan Secretariat, headed by a Secretary-General is located in Colombo, Sri Lanka, since 1951 and functions as the secretariat for the Consultative Committee and the Council. The Secretariat is responsible for the effective administration and implementation of the programmes of the Colombo Plan, in partnership with member countries and collaborating agencies.
A special characteristic of the Colombo Plan is that the administrative costs of the Council and the Secretariat are borne equally by all member countries. However, the training programmes of the Colombo Plan are voluntarily funded by traditional as well as newly emerging donors among its member countries. Developing member countries are also encouraged to meet local currency costs whenever training programmes are held in their respective countries. The Colombo Plan training programmes are also funded by contributions from non-member governments and regional/international organizations. Speech by Dato' Patricia Yoon-Moi Chia in Colombo on 5 July 2010, The gearing up of the level of our activities is made possible through the voluntary contributions of member countries and international agencies such as OPEC fund. Last year our programming was over US$10 million and we expect a more than US$12 million programming this year with almost another US$2 million in terms of cost-sharing from our member countries. With funding from the United States Government and 13 other member countries, the Colombo Plan is now the biggest stakeholder in drug demand reduction in the Asia-Pacific, with a special initiative in Afghanistan.
The Colombo Plan has 4 permanent programmes:
- Programme for Public Administration & Environment (PPA & ENV)
- Programme for Private Sector Development (PPSD)
- Drug Advisory Programme (DAP)
- Long-Term Scholarships Programme (LTSP)
The Plan Now
Over the years, while adhering to the concept of human resource development and south-south cooperation in addressing issues of economic and social development, the programme content of the Colombo Plan has been changing to take account of the needs of member countries in a fast changing world economic environment. In the early years, the training programmes were more of a long-term nature while recent programmes have been focusing on providing advance skills and experience sharing aimed at arriving at the best practices in different fields of economic and social activities as a means of good policy making and governance. The current programmes of the Colombo Plan are in the areas of public policy formulation in an environment of globalisation and market economy, private sector development as a prime mover for growth and in drug abuse and prevention in member countries. The Colombo Plan also provides skill development opportunities for technicians in middle level through another of its programmes the Colombo Plan Staff College for Technician Education located in Manila. A recent speech by current Secretary General, Dato' Patricia Yoon-Moi Chia on 5 July 2010 in Colombo states, the current Colombo Plan looks very different since our restructuring and revitalization in 1995. As we continue to build upon our past successes, the new Colombo Plan uses cooperation among developing member countries or South-south cooperation between the developed member countries and developing member countries, to underpin all our activities. Since our restructuring in 1995, we have now provided 16,082 scholarships to 23 member countries for both long-term and short-term training programmes
Past Secretary Generals
The Colombo Plan underwent an organizational transformation and renewal in 1995 and the then Colombo Plan Bureau became the Colombo Plan Secretariat to be headed by the Secretary-General, instead of a Director. The first Secretary-General was Dr. Kim Hak-su from Korea (January 1995 – March 1999) who was succeeded by Dr. Sarat Chandran, India (April 1999 – June 2003) and Mr. Kittipan Kanjanapitkul from Thailand (June 2003 – August 2007). The incumbent Secretary-General, Dato’ Patricia Yoon-Moi Chia from Malaysia assumed duties on 7 August 2007, as the 20th head of the Organization and also the first Asian female to helm this position.
Colombo Plan Scholars
- Livy Wijemanne
Livy Wijemanne was a pioneer of Radio Ceylon. He was one of Sri Lanka's greatest broadcasters, on October 31, 1948, the Post Master General appointed the young announcer, Assistant Controller of Programmes...
(Sri Lankan), pioneer of Radio Ceylon.
- Khaw Boon Wan
Khaw Boon Wan is a politician from Singapore. He is currently the country's Minister for National Development and the Chairman of the governing People's Action Party . He was previously the Minister for Health from August 2004 to May 2011...
(Singapore), current Minister for Health in Singapore.
- Yeo Cheow Tong
Yeo Cheow Tong is a former politician from Singapore. A member of the governing People's Action Party , he served in the Cabinet from 1990 to 2006, and was a Member of Parliament from 1984 to 2011....
(Singapore), Member of Parliament in Singapore.
- Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan
Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan , is a Malaysian politician and was the seventh Chief Minister of Sabah, a state in Malaysia. He held the post from April 1985 to March 1994. Currently, he is the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Infrastructure Development of Sabah and has...
(Malaysia), Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Rural Development of Sabah.
- Mapatunage James "M. J." Perera
Mapatunage James "M. J." Perera was a Sri Lankan civil servant where born on 03 February 1915 with nine members of Family in Udumulla, Padukka...
(Sri Lankan), he created broadcasting history by being the first Ceylonese Director General of Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia, taking over the helm from John Lampson of the BBC.
- Raymond Lim Siang Keat (Singapore), current Minister for Transport in Singapore.
- Dr. Baburam Bhattarai
Dr. Baburam Bhattarai is a Nepalese politician who became the 35th Prime Minister of Nepal in August 2011. He is a senior Standing Committee Member and vice chairperson of Unified Communist Party of Nepal . His party started a revolutionary People's War in Nepal in 1996 that ultimately led to the...
(Nepal), current Prime Minister of Nepal.
- Dr. K.V. Thiruvengadam
Dr. K.V. Thiruvengadam FRCPE is an Indian physician and medical teacher.He graduated from the Stanley Medical College in Chennai in 1950. He was the recipient of the Padma Shri award for his contributions in the medical field...
(India), Indian physician and medical teacher.
- Dato' Hajji Abdul Ghani Bin Othman
Dato' Hajji Abdul Ghani Bin Othman . is the current Menteri Besar of the state of Johor in Malaysia. He has been in office since 1995. Born in Sungai Mati, Ledang, Muar, Johor, Malaysia. He is a member of the United Malays National Organisation...
(Malaysia), current Grand Minister of the state Johor in Malaysia.
The Plan can be criticized on various grounds. Some Asians will see in it only the hand of the British imperialism, especially as it is not aimed at developing national self-sufficiency. It offers an almost exclusively economic solution for problems which are also political and social. Dangerous issues such as landlordism and the organization of labour, which invite Communist exploitation, are barely touched on, doubtless because it seemed politically inexpedient to raise such questions.
The Colombo Plan currently has 25 members, including countries in the Asia-Pacific region, non Commonwealth countries and countries belonging to regional groupings such as ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation).
There have been four Past members of the Colombo Plan including two founding members in 1950, Canada and the United Kingdom. South Vietnam joined in 1951 and on 2 Jul 1976 was succeeded by Socialist Republic of Vietnam which withdrew 1978. Vietnam was a provisional member from 5 Nov 2001 to 18 Nov 2003 until it was accepted in 2004.