Bhutan positive about implementing BBIN MVA: FM

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Dhaka, April 12: Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Friday said Bhutan is positive about implementing the stalled BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) in a regulated way balancing the environment.“Bhutan is examining the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement for regional connectivity. They said they’ve formed a study committee to find a way to have the agreement signed,” he said, UNB reported.

Talking to reporters after a meeting with Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering at a city hotel, the minister further said, “I told them to do it in a regulated way by balancing the environment. They’re very positive about it.”

Since the BBIN MVA was signed on June 15, 2015, Bangladesh, India and Nepal ratified the agreement while Bhutan halted it. Though the lower house of the country endorsed the agreement, its upper house refrained from ratifying it fearing environmental impact on the country due to increased traffic of heavy-duty vehicles.

Mentioning that Bangladesh has road-water-railway connectivity with India, Dr Momen said he told the Bhutanese Prime Minister that his country put a block on road connectivity raising concern about pollution. “We suggested that they allow the connectivity as it’ll increase people-people connection.”

The minister said he also offered Bhutan to use Bangladesh’s ports and roads. “If they do it, they’ll be benefited and able to ensure the supply of goods for their consumers at competitive and affordable prices. They’re also very positive about it.”

He said the Bhutanese Prime Minister viewed that BBIN’s trading is very weak and it is not possible to intensify the forum without cooperation from all.

Dr Momen said he also offered the Bhutanese Prime Minister to use Saidpur Airport in Bangladesh as the government is going to expand it. “I told him (Tshering) that we’re making a big aviation hub there and there’s a scope for you (Bhutan) to use it.”

The minister said he also told the Bhutanese Prime Minister that Bangladesh is keen to import hydropower from their country. “We should finalise an agreement in this regard as early possible.”

He said the Bhutanese Prime Minister showed interest to recruit Bangladeshi doctors to work in Bhutan.

The minister said Bhutan will offer a special package to hire Bangladeshi specialised doctors to their country.

Dr Momen said he warmly welcomed the Bhutanese Prime Minister as he and his foreign minister are former students of Bangladeshi medical colleges. “I told them ‘you’re most welcome in your second home’.”

Earlier in the morning, Tshering arrived here on a three-day official visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The Bhutanese Prime Minister, leading a 20-member high-powered delegation, was received by Sheikh Hasina at the VVIP tarmac of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and was accorded a 19-gun salute.

Soon after his arrival, the visiting Prime Minister paid his respects to the Liberation War martyrs at the National Mausoleum at Savar and to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmonid.

The two Prime Ministers will hold official talks on Saturday. It is expected that five Memoranda of Understanding will be signed by both sides paving the way for strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the areas of health, agriculture, shipping, tourism and public administration training.

Also on Saturday, the Bhutanese Prime Minister will meet President Abdul Hamid and join a banquet hosted in his honour by the Prime Minister.