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PRESS RELEASE ON THE SIGNING OF MEMORANDUM OF SUBSIDIARY ARRANGEMENT (MSA) BETWEEN THE ROYAL GOVERNMENT OF BHUTAN AND THE GOVERNMENT OF AUSTRALIA CONCERNING THE AUSTRALIAN VOLUNTEERS PROGRAM TO ASSIST BHUTAN

Bhutan and Australia signing of MSA

An agreement was signed between H.E. Maj. Gen. Vetsop Namgyel, Ambassador of Bhutan and H.E. Mr. Peter N. Varghese AO, Ambassador to Bhutan, Australian High Commission New Delhi on 15 May 2012 at 1530 hours at the Australian High Commission to formalize the launching of volunteers program in Bhutan by the Australian Government.

The program will begin with around eight volunteers.  The initial focus will be on education and health.  Each volunteer will work in Bhutan for a period of one to two years.  Volunteer placements will be managed by the Australian Red Cross, Austraining International and Australian Volunteers International.

Speaking after signing the agreement in New Delhi, Australia’s Ambassador to Bhutan, Mr. Peter Varghese AO, said “there is a huge interest among young Australians in volunteering in Bhutan.  I expect this new program to attract a large field of quality applicants.  We hope it will grow over time.”

H.E. Maj Gen. V. Namgyel expressed the appreciation of the Royal Government of Bhutan for the valuable contribution that the Government of Australia has made to Bhutan’s development process, specially towards strengthening of Human Resource Development, not only in the Government organizations but also in the private sector. He said that the volunteer program will further strengthen  cooperation between the two countries and take it to the next level of people to people involvement.

He said that the volunteer program in 2012 marks the golden jubilee of Australia’s longstanding development relationship with Bhutan which began in 1962 when Bhutan attended the Colombo Plan meeting in Melbourne as an observer.

Australia’s current bilateral cooperation with Bhutan is centered on human resource development, mainly through scholarships.  Australia’s assistance to Bhutan has increased significantly in recent years, from A$1m in 2001 to an estimated A$11.4m in 2012-13.

Royal Bhutanese Embassy
New Delhi

15 May 2012

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