'Transit fee is good enough'

Bangladesh should think of getting fee only from India rather than sharing the benefits businesses of the neighbouring country would make from the use of shorter route in case of any future transit deal, an official has said.

bdnews24.com
Published : 12 Sept 2011, 05:06 AM
Updated : 12 Sept 2011, 05:06 AM
Dhaka, Sept 12 (bdnews24.com) –Bangladesh should think of getting fee only from India rather than sharing the benefits businesses of the neighbouring country would make from the use of shorter route in case of any future transit deal, an official has said.
Prime minister's international affairs advisor Gowher Rizvi on Monday repeated his stand over the debated issue in reply to questions at a discussion on Indo-Bangladesh relationship.
While popular concern is that Indian businesses should share the benefits that would come for the use of Bangladesh territories for transporting goods to some of its trouble-torn states, the advisor thinks otherwise.
"The argument is like all those ships that use the Suez Canals should pay Egypt a share of the savings that is accrued by avoiding the longer route via the Cape of Good Hope," the advisor said.
"We want to see that our facility is used and India is paying transit fee," he added.
Politically-sensitive transit has become a thorny issue after Bangladesh apparently refused to exchange a letter when India informed about not signing Teesta agreement during recent visit by Manmohan Singh.
TRUST TO RULE
The advisor said the relationship between the countries should be based on trust and an intention of cooperation.
"We did not trust them [India] for the last 40 years but many problems have been resolved during this government as the trust has started to get momentum," he said.
There is no such example that policy of hostility bears any dividends, he said.
There is no other option other than trusting the neighbour, he added.
TEESTA AGREEMENT
The adviser said the deal for sharing water of the river Teesta could not be signed due to India but local media were blaming the government.
He, however, was reluctant to call the visit of the Indian prime minister a failure only for that the Teesta deal had not been signed.
The Indian prime minister categorically said that water would be shared on fair and equitable basis, Rizvi said.
Bangladesh and India were on the verge of striking the Teesta deal but it was halted after vehement opposition from Paschimbanga chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
"Under the federal system, Indian central government will now consult with the state government to sign the deal," he said.
POWER
Power is holding back the development of the country and during the visit, both the countries agreed on a tripartite power deal, Rizvi said.
India has agreed during the tour to have an agreement in pace between Dhaka and Delhi but with the involvement of Kathmandu or Thimphu.
It is a conservative estimate that Bhutan can produce additional 25,000 megawatt and Nepal 80,000 of electricity, he added.
"One can buy from a country, which has surplus electricity," he said.
TRADE
The Indian announcement of duty-free access of 46 textile items would open an opportunity to reach the market of 1.1 billion people.
"It will attract foreign investors to come to Bangladesh to have access to Indian market," he said.
India allowed duty-free access of the 46 items against the Bangladeshi demand of 61 products. India still has about 440 products in its negative list.
LAND BORDER
The disputes related to the porous border with India have been resolved as enclaves would be exchanged and the disputed issues of the adversely possessed land would be settled.
"Both the countries could not demarcate 6.5 kilomters of the border for long but now it is resolved," he said.
Bangladesh and India signed a protocol on Sept 6 on land boundary agreement signed in 1974 to settle all border related dispute expeditiously.
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Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher