Dhaka to pursue BBIN issue during PM’s Bhutan visit

DHAKA : Bangladesh will ‘pursue’ Bhutan to help implement the much-talked-about Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) as Bhutan is yet to ratify the pact, reports UNB.
The issue will come up for discussion during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s three-day official visit to Bhutan that begins on Tuesday.
“Surely, we’ll pursue it. It’s an ongoing process,” Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali told reporters at the ministry while briefing on the visit.
The BBIN motor vehicle agreement was rejected by the National Council (NC), the upper house of the Bhutanese Parliament, on November 15 last year.
The pact, which aims to have seamless movement of cargo containers, trucks and passenger vehicles within these four countries across the international borders, was signed in the Bhutanese capital in 2015.
The BBIN agreement is designed to promote safe, economical efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the sub-region and will further help each country create an institutional mechanism for regional integration, an official told UNB.
The BBIN countries will be benefited by mutual cross-border movement of passengers and goods for overall economic development of the region. The people of the four countries will benefit through seamless movement of goods and passenger across borders, said the official.
During the visit, Sheikh Hasina will hold bilateral talks with her Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay and discuss bilateral and regional issues on Tuesday.
Water resource management, hydropower, sub-regional cooperation, connectivity, cultural and agriculture cooperation, easing trade and commerce among other issues will be discussed during the bilateral talks.
She will also hold meeting with Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
The Foreign Minister said six MoUs and agreements are likely to be signed after the bilateral meeting covering the withdrawal of double taxation, cultural cooperation, using rive route by Bhutan and allocation of land for permanent Bangladesh Mission in Bhutan.
Responding to a question, the Foreign Minister said Bangladesh will invest US$ 1 billion in hydroelectric power project in Bhutan. He said Bangladesh will get around 1000 megawatt electricity at a ‘proportionate rate’ from the power project against its investment.
The Foreign Minister, however, said additional investment from other sources will also be required for the project.
A trilateral cooperation document among Bhutan, Bangladesh and India that will enable Bangladesh to invest in the Dorjilung hydropower project in Lhuentse in Bhutan will be signed during the next Bimstec Summit to be held in Nepal. Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque was also present at the media briefing.