Volume #21 - 248.|
MEETING OF THE COMMONWEALTH CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE FOR SOUTH-EAST ASIA, SINGAPORE, OCTOBER 17-21, 1955
Extract from Instructions to Delegation to the Colombo Plan|
Consultative Committee Meeting
FUTURE OF THE COLOMBO PLAN AND THE SIZE AND SCOPE|
OF CANADIAN PARTICIPATION
The first planning phase of the Colombo Plan terminates on June 30, 1957. It is expected generally by all countries that the Plan will be continued beyond this date. The United Kingdom Delegation has already indicated that they will support its continuation, preferably on an indefinite basis.
2. Cabinet has agreed that the Canadian Delegation should favour the continuation of the Colombo Plan beyond 195722 and that the Canadian representatives should suggest that the next planning period might coincide, more or less, with the completion of some of the major development plans in the area. A suggested date is mid-1961. While the Canadian Delegation would have no objection to the continuation being of an indefinite nature if a majority of other participating countries favour this, there would appear to be some merit, particularly from the point of view of the Asian countries, to establishing another planning phase which might perhaps be carried forward to the date suggested above. This date, incidentally, coincides with the end of the second five-year plan of India. To give substance to the Canadian position, the Canadian Delegation has been authorized to indicate that, subject to a review of the situation from year to year and to the voting of funds by Parliament, the Canadian Government would expect to make appropriate contributions throughout this period. It seems highly desirable that the Canadian Delegation be in a position to make it quite clear at this year's meeting of the Consultative Committee that the Canadian Government will continue to support the economic development programmes of the countries of South and Southeast Asia in a period which will be a critical one in the planning of most of these countries.
3. With respect to next year's contribution, the Canadian Delegation is not in a position to announce the exact amount of funds which the Canadian Government will ask Parliament to approve for the fiscal year 1956-57. However, it has been agreed that, without mentioning any figures, the Conference might be informed that in addition to the existing annual programme which has been running at $26.4 million, the Canadian Government hopes next year to increase its contribution. The additional funds which Parliament will be asked to approve will cover, over a period of two or three years, the atomic reactor to be built in India, the increased costs of the Warsak project in Pakistan and possibly also provide for certain modest projects in countries now participating in the Plan and which have not been assisted by us (aid to non-Commonwealth countries is discussed further in Section II of this Brief).
4. It should be understood, of course, that as in the case of our programmes for India, Pakistan and Ceylon, worthwhile projects would have to be agreed upon.
5. While it is useful to inform the Singapore Conference of the various factors which have prompted the Canadian Government to seek an increase for next year's vote, it would not seem advisable to tie this increase too tightly to specific items at this time. It would not be advisable, therefore, to give any indication of the amount which Canada anticipates would be available for these various new undertakings. The amount which is finally voted for 1956-57 will, in part, have to be kept flexible to meet the needs of the programme as next year progresses.
6. Attached as Appendix "A"? are suggested notes for possible inclusion in the speech which will be made to the meeting of Ministers by [Pearson] the leader of the Canadian Delegation.
It has been agreed that Canada's Colombo Plan aid to the non-Commonwealth countries in the area (e.g. Burma, Thailand, Viet-Nam, Laos and Cambodia, Indonesia and possibly Malaya) should be extended and that it should be possible to make immediate investigations of a number of projects which would allow for the expenditure of Colombo Plan funds in this and succeeding years. In fact, certain projects have already been investigated during the current year and part of the additional $1 million vote in 1955-56 has been used for this purpose. On the basis of these investigations and others in the future, it is expected that a number of worthwhile projects will be produced. Since most of these countries are considerably lacking in administrative and technical skills, it is clear that any modest projects for capital assistance would have to be closely related to our technical assistance programmes. It might be necessary for Canada to take more initiative to help these countries sort out their requests and determine in what ways Canada might best help them. It may also be necessary to send more Canadian experts out to investigate possible capital assistance projects than has been required for projects in India, Pakistan and Ceylon. Since the non-Commonwealth countries have received so little assistance from Canada we should avoid, if possible, long administrative delays in determining whether a project will be assisted. A survey of the technical assistance required by these countries which Canada has undertaken, was carried out earlier this year when Mr. Bartlett, Chief of the Technical Co-operation Service, visited most of these countries and reported on some possibility. It is obvious however, that more intensive investigations will be required before it will be possible to determine exactly which projects seem suitable for Canadian assistance.
2. It is suggested that the following offers of assistance might be explored with recipient countries during the Singapore Conference.
(a) Burma has expressed a great interest in securing a cobalt beam therapy unit and arrangements are being made for one of these to be made available to Burma. A suggested outline of the proposal which might be offered to Burma is attached to this Brief as Appendix "B".?
(b) Arrangements are under way to send a technical mission to Indonesia to investigate the possibility of assisting in staffing and equipping an engineering institute in that country. This mission would also investigate the needs of Indonesia with respect to an aerial survey and a geographical survey. This proposal could be discussed in detail with the Indonesian delegation and while we are not in a position to indicate the exact date when this team would visit Indonesia we are hopeful that it would be in the immediate future.
(c) The delegation might be prepared to discuss aid possibilities with the delegations from the Indo-China States. These countries have received very little aid from Canada; but it was suggested at last year's Colombo Plan Conference in Ottawa by Canadian Ministers that we were well-placed to send French-speaking experts to these countries under the technical assistance programme and to provide training in our French-speaking universities for students from this area. The delegation might discuss particularly with the Cambodian delegation the desirability of sending a French-speaking fisheries expert to Cambodia. The latter country have asked Canada to supply some fish drying equipment. While it is possible that we could undertake this project next year, it may be that there are other parts of the fishing industry which also require urgent help. We are hopeful that a fisheries expert could be made available to visit Cambodia and possibly the other Indo-Chinese States if so requested in the immediate future.
(d) The delegation may wish to take the opportunity of the visit to Singapore of the three Truce Commission Supervisors to discuss the needs of the Indo-Chinese States for economic assistance. We understand from Mr. David Owen that the United National Technical Assistance Board is anxious to undertake programmes in Indo-China. Mr. Owen has indicated that they would welcome consultation with Canadian officials. He has suggested that the UNTAB representative, Sir Alexander McFarquar, who will be in Singapore should be given an opportunity to discuss possibilities for economic assistance with our Truce Commissioners. The Canadian delegation might undertake to co-ordinate such discussions.
(e) The delegation should be prepared to discuss the technical assistance requirements of all non-Commonwealth countries as it is hoped that we will be able to expand our technical assistance programmes in a variety of ways to these countries next year.
ADMISSION OF NEW MEMBERS
Canada does not at present see that the membership of Afghanistan in the Colombo Plan is possible or desirable particularly because of the open opposition to Afghanistan membership from some of the South and Southeast Asian countries, Pakistan in particular. Afghanistan is a little outside the immediate Colombo Plan area and would, if admitted to the Colombo Plan, tend to bring with its membership a number of difficult problems, for example, the difficult problems concerning Indian and Pakistan relations, U.S.S.R. and U.S.A. relations, which might do more harm than good. In addition, the Government of Afghanistan has been notoriously corrupt and inefficient. Should this Government change, however, for the better, it is possible that our objections to the provision of economic aid might be reduced. The background for a Canadian decision on Afghanistan membership is:
(a) The Colombo Plan was not the most suitable instrument with which to offset Russian influence in Afghanistan.
(b) It would be unwise to bring the disputes between Pakistan and Afghanistan within the context of the Colombo Plan.
(c) We lacked representation in Afghanistan and consequently accurate information about the country.
(d) The fields in which Canada could provide assistance were limited.
(e) The administration of Afghanistan was so disorganized that it could not be relied upon to participate effectively in any scheme of assistance.
(f) Pakistan objected strenuously and the United Kingdom and Australia were averse to the admission of Afghanistan to the Colombo Plan.
(g) The offer of economic aid would allow Afghanistan to play off one side against the other and would likely result in increased Russian economic and political pressure.
(h) It was very doubtful if any assistance which could be provided would substantially affect Afghanistan's position in her relations with Russia and the West.
(i) It was unrealistic to think that Afghanistan would drop agitation for Pakhtoonistan [sic] in return for economic help from the United States and the Commonwealth.23
2. Canada is well disposed towards a French application for membership in the Colombo Plan but we have conditioned our response to French proposals on the reaction of the Asian members of the Colombo Plan. In general, it is the Canadian conclusion that only if these Asian governments were prepared to accept and to welcome France as a member of the Colombo Plan would we be able to support her candidature. It is considered that should France be admitted there would be applications from other European countries with similar interests in South and Southeast Asia, particularly the Netherlands. Indonesia would almost certainly object to admission of the Netherlands and, therefore, it seems that the prospects of success for French candidature are not too good. It is not thought that there would be any other proposals for memberships brought before the Singapore meetings of the Colombo Plan.
FUTURE OF THE BUREAU FOR TECHNICAL CO-OPERATION AND POSSIBLE
In general the Canadian authorities feel that the Bureau for Technical Co-operation has served a modestly useful purpose and that if we were to start a Colombo Plan organization again we would be prepared to support the creation of some similar body. The Bureau has assisted in avoiding duplication of technical assistance requests, has served as a channel through which applications could be directed by countries in Asia to the donor countries which did not have representation in each other's respective capitals. It has also helped in standardization of conditions for exports going to the area and has provided valuable material for discussions on general policy. However, it is recognized that the Bureau has had a very limited sphere of operations and that there would undoubtedly be ways of increasing its effectiveness under fresh direction as part of a Colombo Plan Secretariat, for example.
2. The Canadian authorities are not particularly dissatisfied with Dr. Curtin's performance as Director of the Bureau and we would not want to support any move to have him ousted summarily. On the other hand, it is recognized that he might not be the most suitable person to head an expanded Colombo Plan administration and that under a reorganization of the existing administration it might be found possible to replace Dr. Curtin with someone who would be able to deal more effectively with the operations of the Bureau for Technical Co-operation.
3. Mr. Casey's proposals for the creation of a Colombo Plan Secretariat by absorbing the Bureau and the Information Unit and creating an Economic Aid Section have been viewed with favour in Ottawa, subject to the proviso that they must be acceptable to the Asian members. In addition, it is the Canadian thought that any expansion of the Colombo Plan Secretariat should be modest and that the Economic Aid section would be expected to concentrate on the provision of information about economic aid rather than on any co-ordination of economic aid projects. The Colombo Plan Secretariat could also do a good deal of work in preparation for the annual meeting and could keep records of capital assistance projects under way. However, it is considered that such an Economic Aid Branch should not undertake to do overall analysis of Colombo Plan progress and objectives and that this task should be left for the annual reports.
4. In all discussions of the future form of the Colombo Plan organization and of the future development of the Plan itself, it is the Canadian view that the existing bilateral and informal nature of the Colombo Plan operation should be retained and that it would not be desirable to create any type of administration which would interfere with the direct contact between donor and receiving governments, which has been so fruitful up to the present.
5. In considering proposals such as that of Mr. Casey, it would not be appropriate for the Canadian Delegation to take a position in advance of that taken by other major Colombo Plan delegations, nor would Canada be prepared to initiate any ambitious programmes. Above all, however, the Canadian Delegation should make certain that any concrete proposals coming before the Conference have substantial Asian support.
6. The Colombo Plan Information Unit has only just begun to function and has, in Canadian eyes, made a very useful start. It would seem unnecessary to disorganize the existing organization which has been set up and Canada would favour a continuation of the Information Unit's operations on the present basis.
7. It has been suggested that Canada might consider supplying a Canadian to fill one of the important roles in a revised Secretariat. If Canada is asked to do so, the delegation could accept the proposal and suggest that it might be possible for a suitable Canadian to be found. Our ability to provide a candidate will depend in large measure on the type of Secretariat which the Conference finally decided to establish.
8. There will undoubtedly be numerous questions concerning the financing of a Secretariat, the salary level of the Director and so on. There will probably be discussions also concerning the location of the Secretariat. On the latter point, Colombo would seem to have a good claim (facilities and some personnel already there, small and fairly conveniently situated country, and place of origin of the Plan). On financial aspects, the delegation will be expected to exercise its own judgment and not to accept any definite commitments until there has been an opportunity to consider them in Ottawa.
Canada has circulated to the member governments some comments on problems related to the Technical Assistance Programme, which propose:
(a) That the priority lists be prepared annually by recipient countries.
(b) That firm written undertakings be given that trainees would return to employment for which their Colombo Plan experience would assist them.
(c) That nomination procedures and forms be improved to allow for these two suggestions.
Furthermore, Canada feels that more requests for assistance in the development of training institutions in the area itself could be sympathetically considered in line with the often repeated recommendations of the Colombo Plan Consultative Committee and Council that training programmes in the area should be encouraged in preference to the sending of trainees abroad. There were also included some suggestions for more effective use of Canadian experts (provision of understudies, making available adequate facilities for working or teaching, prompt payment of allowance, etc.)
2. Attached as Appendix "C"? is a copy of the paper dealing with our views on technical assistance which has been circulated to other member governments.
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