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239 Submission from Department of External Affairs to Casey

October 1952

Colombo Plan—Assistance to Technical Institutions

1. It was decided on 14th April, 1951 that Australian technical assistance should include not merely provision of experts and training facilities, but also equipment and financial assistance for approved institutions. This is in line with the practice of United Nations organisations and of the United States Government.

2. We now have the reports of several investigating missions upon which to base recommendations. The following recommendations are derived from Mr. S.A. Clarke's Report.1 He made use of the McDonald Report on technical training in India, Pakistan and Ceylon.2

3. Mr. Clarke has made specific recommendations, and most of them are included in this submission. In making these recommendations and in the prior discussions with the Governments concerned, Mr. Clarke has accepted as a matter of policy that the Government should discourage the Asian Governments from bringing forward requests for assistance in the fields of higher education and pure science and should concentrate on the basic problem of improving standards of applied science and technical skill in the agricultural and industrial fields. The Department endorses this recommendation as a sound policy to be adopted by the Australian Government.

4. It is recommended that we act promptly on the Clarke Report. In some cases, procurement could be commenced with relatively little delay. It is suggested that we concentrate action on these cases in order to stimulate interest and activity in the recipient countries. On the other hand, some of the recommendations made below cannot be implemented immediately. Governmental approval in principle will be followed by further specific investigations into Australian availabilities and further explorations with the Governments concerned. In some cases we shall have to inform the Governments of our desire that they will give a priority rating to projects which we regard as valuable but which have not yet been officially sponsored by them. Some of the equipment will have to be purchased outside Australia. In one case, the visit to Australia of a Pakistani official will be essential before procurement could be commenced.

5. The projects set out below are described in the attached extracts from Mr. Clarke's draft report. (The final report will be available later this week.)

6. It is recommended for your approval:

(1) That Australia inform the Ceylon Government of our agreement in principle to assist the following projects within the financial limits specified and subject to agreement on details:

Technical Education Equipment for polytechnic and trade schools 11,000

(It is also recommended that Australia explore with the Ceylon Government the possibility of a building for one or more of these polytechnics being provided out of flour proceeds and thus completely identified with Australia.)

Tractor and equipment for the Minneriya (UNESCO) project 2,000
Beach seine and trammel nets 3,000

(It is also recommended that we discuss with Ceylon provision by Australia of fishing craft, informing them of differing recommendations made by Dr. Kesteven of the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council.)

Equipment for brick and tile investigations to be proposed by us on advice of Dr. Hosking who is to be informed in Ceylon of our decision 2,000
16 m.m. Sound Projectors, Micro-phones, etc., Strip Film Projectors, and Strip Manufacturing Unit (subject to precise indication by Ceylon of intended end-use) 4,000
Miscellaneous Equipment (see Appendix II of Clarke Report). Mr. Todd, with details supplied by Mr. Clarke, should examine Australian availabilities *
Total for Ceylon 22,000

*At a later stage and after further investigation, consideration might also be given to supplying cine-projector and woodworking machines for the Basic Technical Training Institute, Ratmalana.

(ii) That Australia inform the Pakistan Government of our agreement in principle to assist the following projects within the financial limits specified and subject to agreement on details:

Equipment for five technical high schools 130,000
Total for Pakistan 130,000

It is also recommended that we explore with the Pakistan Government the possibility of the Australian Government financing in addition the cost of building one such school to make it all-Australian. This project should be undertaken within the limit of �250,000 for technical equipment allocated to Pakistan.

(iii) That Australia offer to supply to India the following

Equipment for Indian Dairy Research Institute (Bangalore) 6,000
Equipment for Plant Protection Quarantine, etc. (Ministry of Food and Agriculture, New Delhi) 3,000
Equipment for Indian Council of Agricultural Research (New Delhi) 2,500
Agricultural, laboratory and related equipment, and buildings for the Central Rice Research Institute (Cuttack) 35,000

(It seems desirable to provide buildings, as well as equipment because:

(a) The Institute is short of finance generally.

(b) Part of the Institute could become completely 'Australian' by providing buildings.

(c) The Institute is largely international, serves other South and South-East Asian countries as well as India and is subsidised by FAO.)

Equipment for the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (Pusa, Delhi) 5,000
Farming and workshop equipment for the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur) 75,000
Equipment for Geological Survey (New Delhi) 15,000
Equipment for Statistical Centre (Calcutta) 20,000
Total for India 161,500

The Clarke Report also recommends that Australia provide medical equipment for the Patel Chest Institute, New Delhi, valued at �20,000, and mobile dental vans, refrigerators, microscopes, etc., for the Ministry of Health, New Delhi, valued at �32,500. Your ruling is requested as to whether these items are admissible under the technical equipment programme. If you were agreeable in principle to this provision, it would be necessary to investigate a report from our office in New Delhi that mobile dental vans supplied by UNICEF were not used.

In all cases, we should tell the Governments concerned that we are disposed in principle to assist, subject to satisfaction on details which we would specify.

As indicated above, much of this equipment will not be available in Australia. Nevertheless, it seems desirable that we should concentrate our aid on a selected number of projects and institutions which are of principal value so as to enable Australian aid to be identified more easily and gain us goodwill and publicity, rather than disperse it in small lots so as to follow Australian availabilities rigidly and without exception. If we adopt the practice of supplying only what is available in Australia, the following disadvantages will obtain:

(i) End-use (local organisation, planning of supplies in recipient country) will be complicated.

(ii) There will be similar complications at Australian end.

(iii) The Australian contribution will be submerged and it will be more difficult to establish a visible 'monument' which can be seen by a large number of people and associated with Australia.

It should also be noted that Australia, herself, in originating the proposal for a Commonwealth Technical Assistance Fund at the Sydney Conference, recommended that contributions should not be tied to expenditure in contributing countries but should be available for expenditure in soft-currency areas. The target of �Stg.8 million was set on the assumption that soft-currency expenditure would be permitted.

It is therefore recommended that we accept commitments in foreign exchange (primarily within the Sterling Area) and (although our estimate of expenditure outside Australia must be tentative at this stage) that we should set an upper limit of �250,000 for expenditure outside Australia out of the figure of approx. �500,000 now being committed. Cabinet Decision of 14th August, 1950, on Submission No. 149, places authority for expenditure of our Technical Co-operation contribution explicitly in the hands of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.3 Nevertheless, in view of the overall balance-of-payments situation, it will be desirable to discuss this aspect with the Department of the Treasury and to seek their support for the policy proposed and the limits on overseas expenditure contemplated. Assuming overseas expenditure is approved, we should discuss with Treasury methods by which we make the expenditure (for example, by payment for orders laid in third countries by recipient Governments, or direct ordering and payment by ourselves, etc.).

It might be noted that the proposal that buildings (valued at �A25,000) should be provided for the Central Rice Research Institute at Cuttack, India, would necessarily involve expenditure in local currency, as would expenditure for a hostel for the Statistical Centre, Calcutta (�15,000) and for a technical school in Pakistan (rough estimate �100,000). Total expenditure in local currency for these three projects would therefore be about �A140,000.

It is therefore recommended for your approval:

That expenditure outside Australia but primarily within the Sterling Area, be permitted on the equipment listed above, up to a maximum of �A250,000.

The costs for equipment, buildings, etc., given above are estimates only and do not include any provision for freight charges. In order to set down, with some margin for error, the extent to which the allocations for the various countries will be drawn down, it is suggested that to the figures for costs given above should be added:

(i) 15% to cover freight, packing, and related charges.

(ii) 10% to cover contingencies, included underestimates in costing.

Having made these adjustments, there would (if the expenditures recommended in this submission were all approved) still be substantial sums of money, allocated for technical equipment, remaining uncommitted. The following is the position for each country:

Amount Allocated �A Amount Committed �A Amount Remaining �A
Ceylon 50,000 35,500 14,500
Pakistan 250,000 245,000 5,000
India 550,000 212,000 238,000

Although it is desirable that we make equipment available as quickly as possible as we reasonably can, it seems that, in order to get the maximum benefit from our expenditure, we should hold expenditure of the amounts in the third column above until we can apply them to soundly conceived projects and institutions. Expenditures already recommended are likely to stimulate more adequate requests than have so far been presented. At the same time, we in Australia and our offices in Colombo, Karachi, and New Delhi should give continuing attention to possibilities of useful expenditure of residual funds.

It is therefore recommended for your approval:

(i) That the amounts of �14,500 for Ceylon, �5,000 for Pakistan, and �238,000 for India remain uncommitted for the moment.

(ii) That the Technical Assistance Section and the Director of Colombo Plan Supplies give continuing attention to offers which might subsequently be made for expenditure of these amounts; and

(iii) That our offices in Colombo, Karachi, and New Delhi be instructed to bring to our notice any ways in which these amounts might effectively be spent.

It will be important to give some publicity to this first large venture in provision of technical equipment. It will, in the case of agricultural equipment for India and equipment for technical schools in Pakistan be necessary also to discuss need with special Indian and Pakistani representatives in Australia. Approval has already been given for a visit by Captain Khan of the Pakistan Ministry of Education but it will also be necessary to place recommendations before you for a visit by experts on India's needs of agricultural implements.

It is therefore recommended for your approval:

(i) That, as soon as our offers are accepted by the respective Governments, an announcement be made of our intention to assist, inter alia:

(a) The Minneriya Project and educational establishments in Ceylon.

(b) The Central Rice Research Institute and the Institute of Technology in India.

(c) Technical High Schools in Pakistan.

(ii) That firm proposals be placed before you as soon as possible for a visit by experts on India's needs of agricultural equipment, including needs of the Central Rice Research Institute, the Indian Agricultural Research Institute and the Indian Institute of Technology, for which provision of equipment is recommended above.

It is also recommended that your approval be regarded as approval in principle, pending consultations with Departments (such as the Treasury) whose views will be submitted if any variation in the proposals is called for.

[NAA: A9879, 2202/El part 4]

1 Not published.

2 Not published.

3 See Document 80.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History