Another step in the transit policy
The transit facility arrangement took a new turn as the Bangladeshi commerce ministry announced the possibility of signing ‘protocols’ with Bhutan and another two countries wishing to acquire transit benefits through two to three road routes.
This was in trail of the earlier identified 17 transit routes – seven each by road and rail, and three by waterways. Although proposals were made for 15 routes that are directly linked through Mongla and Chittagong ports in April, authorities maintained that all the routes are not ready for the facilities yet but, limited transits could be carried out for now.
The Bangladesh foreign affairs and commerce ministry announced two to three protocols to be signed along with a framework of transit agreements sometime in September.
However, there were also indications that the signing of protocols may take place only at the end of this year. The framework signing was recommended before the introduction of transit facilities. They also suggested inking of different protocols for different routes under the framework.
Although no concrete developments are seen on the transit fees as yet, the Bangladeshi transit committee indicated a possible determination of fees within the next few weeks.
Talking to journalists at the Economic Reporter’s Forum, the Bangladesh Finance Minister informed that agreements will be signed for certain routes while more time is assumed to be taken for opening all the routes.
An official of the Tariff Commission said the framework of the agreement will contain, among other things, outlines of the routes and how those would be made operational. Besides, issues related to transit with Nepal and Bhutan will also be there.
The protocols will mention the amount of fees and other detailed modalities. Separate fees for different modes of transit will be charged on the basis of per kilometer per tonne.
The government will finalize fees through negotiation with India following the committee recommendations.
Meanwhile, Bhutanese stakeholders expressed satisfaction over the development in the long overdue transit agreement and are anticipating a binding resolution soon.