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21 June, 2015 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 20 June, 2015 11:50:06 PM
CPD wants all papers on websites

Success hinges on investment strategy

Success hinges on 
investment strategy

Bangladesh can extract the maximum benefit from the Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal (BBIN) Motors Vehicles Agreement (MVA) through a comprehensive connectivity strategy aligned with the country’s investment strategy, the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) said yesterday.
The civil society think-tank also called upon the government to set up strong coordination channels among the different ministries for realising the potential gains from an integrated sub-region.
CPD officials said this at a seminar on ‘Trade facilitation in South Asia through transport connectivity’ at BRAC Inn in Dhaka. Prof. Rehman Sobhan chaired the seminar. Among others, Indian high commissioner Pankaj Saran, Nepal ambassador Hari Kumar Shrestha, Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) president Abdul Matlub Ahmad, former commerce secretary Sohel Ahmed Chowdhury, former communications secretary Dr Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman, and CPD distinguish fellow Dr Debapriya Battacharjya attended the meeting.
Prof. Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of CPD, made a presentation on the transport connectivity and operationalization of the MVA.
Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal had signed the agreement in Thimphu on June 15 to facilitate seamless cross-border movement of vehicles by reducing trade barriers and increasing the efficiency of the transport system.
Prof. Rahman said the investment cost in Bangladesh, in view of establishing closer connectivity with India, was estimated to be around $8 billion for infrastructure development for roads, rail, inland water transportation (IWT) and ports.
Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said, “It is a new journey for us. We should be optimistic regarding MVA.”
The minister added: “The problem is that our thoughts are highly ambitious, but actual implementation is very slow and limited. We talk much, but reality is very difficult.”
He informed that the government was going to develop the two-lane road connecting Dhaka to Bhurimari land port into four lanes.
About the Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB), the minister said 20 per cent of the work has been completed. “It’s not a dream anymore,” he added.
Quader also said work on the Dhaka-Mymensingh four-lane highway will be completed by June 30 and so there will be no hassles for home-bound passengers on this route during Eid.
The CPD said India would benefit from the  transit movement as the distance between Agartala to Kolkata will come down to 400 km from 1,645 km as most of the new route will pass through Bangladesh.

 The cost of rail cargo movement between NEI and ROI is estimated to be reduced from the present USD 30 per tonne to about USD 11 per tonne. As for road cargo, the cost will reduce from USD 150 per tonne to USD 50 per tonne.
It is not enough to design the modalities of implementation to ensure win-win outcomes. It is equally important that this is perceived to be so by citizens. Hence, the importance of access to information and transparency with regard to the follow-up actions, the CDA said.
All relevant documents such as BBIN-MVA, protocols, permit forms, information about fees, surcharges and user fees should be freely available on dedicated websites.
Protocols would need to have details of routes, route maps, location of halts, rest or recreation places, tolls and check posts for passenger and cargo transportation.
Permits for regular passenger transportation and regular cargo transportation will be on the basis of multiple entries, valid for one year permits for non-regular passenger vehicles for up to 30 days.
The agreement will not affect any existing bilateral agreements or arrangements between the contracting countries.
Pankaj Saran said there were big possibilities for Bangladesh to expand trade with Bhutan and Nepal.
About the fresh line of credit, Saran said it will provide for education, power, rail and ECT sector, and all the projects proposed by the Bangladesh government.
“We should keep in mind that the total population of the north-east in India is only 40 million and economic activities are not as much as in the rest of India,” he said. “If Bangladesh wants to extract maximum benefit from the transit pact, you have to find out the real customers for transit,” he added.
Commenting on the benefit of transit, he said there was a huge scope for Bangladesh to expand trade with Nepal and Bhutan in future.
About the issue of transit fees, the envoy said it was necessary identify it through every single agreement for charges and fees, including special provisions, which are absolutely essential for sustainable processes. He also urged the transit fees and charges in the market be checked as well as talks with the stakeholders and businessmen.
Regarding the implementation of MVA, Saran said land acquisition was the real problem in project implementation to establish regional connectivity. “The main message of the MVA is that we want to practically work together in building up connectivity of the four nations by going beyond seminars and conference rooms,” he added.
The Indian high commissioner believed that this initiative would be successful and all credit would go to the Bangladesh side.
Hari Kumar said the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports of Bangladesh was very important for Nepal and will increase in future. He also thanked the Bangladesh government for providing the use of Mongla port to receive emergency relief for earthquake victims in April.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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