Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the Bhutanese government to expedite the process for ratifying the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement and said that this initiative could be adjusted with the environmental concern of Bhutan.
The Bangladesh premier made the call during her bilateral meeting with Bhutanese prime minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay at royal banquet hall of Gyalyong Tshogkhang here in the afternoon.
After the meeting, foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque and press secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters.
In response, the Bhutanese prime minister said that his country is also committed to the BBIN process and also looking into the matter as how to address the environmental concerns once the connectivity of BBIN initiative becomes effective.
‘Bhutan will take care of the matter with the spirit of BBIN once the environmental concerns are addressed,’ the foreign secretary quoting the Bhutanese PM.
Regarding tourism, the Bhutanese prime minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay said that they would send a delegation to Bangladesh on how to establish a tourism corridor cantering Cox’s Bazar and Kuakata and thus explore the potentials.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina apprised her Bhutanese counterpart about her government’s recent initiative to declare March 25 as the ‘Genocide Day’, and sought support of Bhutan in this regard for getting its international recognition.
He said that since Bhutan is one of the countries which recognised Bangladesh on December 6 in 1971, Bangladesh and Bhutan enjoy a special relation.
To further cement this relation, Shahidul said, that the Bhutan has offered to provide a piece of land to Bangladesh for buildings Bangladesh’s own embassy building in Thimphu.
The issues which came up prominently during the bilateral meeting include boosting trade and commerce between the two countries through forging connectivity.
Besides, the Bhutanese prime minister put utmost importance on the bright potentials of exchanging hydropower saying, ‘Hydropower could be a ‘game changer’ in this region as once the initiative is implemented.’
‘Power would be generated in Bhutan and then could be transmitted among the three countries,’ he said.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina underscored the need for striking balance in the balance of trade between Bangladesh and Bhutan as it is now tilted in favour of Bhutan.
The Bhutanese prime minister also sought FDI from Bangladesh especially in the ICT sector adding that Bangladeshi software company has already came to Bhutan and their experience is good.
Responding to the Bhutanese prime minister’s request to address the delay in land customs at Burimari Landport to expedite the trade and commerce, Sheikh Hasina assured that her government would take necessary steps in this regard.
Mentioning the establishment of health trust fund by Bhutan marking the birth anniversary of Bhutanese 4th king, Tobgay sought support and cooperation of Bangladesh in this connection. Sheikh Hasina replied in the positive saying that she would assist Bhutan in this regard.
About the scope of Bangladeshi doctors to work in Bhutan, Tobgay said that once employed, the foreign doctors in Bhutan could get up to maximum $3,000 per month apart from their living expenditure.
‘If, the Bangladeshi doctors get encouraged, then they would have the scope to work here in Bhutan,’ added the foreign secretary.
The Bhutanese prime minister informed his Bangladesh counterpart that some 123 medical students of Bhutan are now studying in Bangladesh with half and full scholarship and such facility could be extended further to the Bhutanese students.
In response, Sheikh Hasina said that special seats could be kept for the Bhutanese medical students wishing to study at Rangpur Medical College alongside the other medical institutions of the country.
Sheikh Hasina also thanked the Bhutanese prime minister for organising such international conference on Autism.
The Bhutanese prime minister expressed satisfaction over the renewal of the agreement on cultural exchange between the two countries.
‘Through it the cultural exchange between Bhutan and Bangladesh would be expanded further,’ he said.
When the Bangladesh premier raised the issue of fibre optic connectivity between Bangladesh and Bhutan via India, Tshering Tobgay proposed for a discussion between the three countries to this end.
The Bhutanese prime minister called for sub-regional water management jointly, especially three countries – Bhutan, Bangladesh and India.
While talking about the BIMSTEC, he said there is a huge potentiality of the regional grouping. We strongly support the BIMSTEC and through it sub-regional cooperation could be further strengthened.
The Bangladesh premier reiterated her offer to Bhutan to use Chittagong and Mongla ports as well as Syedpur Airport for increase its trade and commerce.
Later, the Bangladesh prime minister attended a banquet at royal banquet hall to be hosted in her honour by the Bhutanese premier.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is now in Bhutan on a three-day state visit to attend an international conference on autism.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh and Bhutan on Tuesday signed five instruments, including three memorandum of understandings and two agreements, in sectors like to further boost the bilateral ties between the two countries in the fields of agriculture, trade and commerce and culture.
The MoUs and agreements were signed between the two countries at the royal banquet hall of Gyalyong Tshogkhang after the bilateral meeting between Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Bhutanese prime minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay.
Both the prime ministers witnessed the signing of the MoUs and agreements.
Sheikh Hasina is now on a three-day state visit to Bhutan to attend an international conference on Autism.
The MoU between agriculture and food regulatory authority, ministry of agriculture and forests, royal government of Bhutan, and department of agriculture extension, ministry of agriculture, government of Bangladesh was signed by Namgay Wangchuk, director general of BAFRA of Bhutan.
The agreement between Bangladesh and Bhutan on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income was inked by Nim Dorji, secretary, ministry of finance of Bhutan.
The agreement on cultural cooperation between Bangladesh and Bhutan was signed by foreign secretary of Bhutan ambassador Sonam Tshong.
The another MoU penned between the two countries was on use of inland waterways for transportation of bilateral trade and transit cargoes between Bangladesh and Bhutan.
The other MoU between Bhutan Standards Bureau and Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute was signed by Sonam Phuntsho, director general of Bhutan Standards Bureau.
Those who signed the agreements and MoUs on behalf of Bangladesh are PMO senior secretary Suraiya Begum, foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque and DG, South Asia of ministry of foreign affairs Monowar Hossain.
Source: New Age