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Bangladesh: Govt Moves to Set Nat'l Policy on Transit Issues
Source: bangladesh-web.com
Source Date: Monday, December 20, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: Bangladesh
Created: Dec 20, 2010

The government has moved to set a broad-based policy on transit issues by next month to expedite efforts to strike multi-transport connectivity and shipment deals with the country's South Asian neighbours.

Commerce ministry officials said Sunday a National Policy Paper on Transit would be prepared in line with the directives given last month by the Finance Minister to boost regional trade and connectivity.

Bangladesh Tariff Commission, a wing of the commerce ministry, has been entrusted with the core policy making job, while five other sub-committees have been set to help formulate the policy in the next three weeks, they said.

The country needs plans and strategies on the key transit issue on a fast-track basis after the government announced that it would soon sign transport and port deals with three South Asian countries of India, Nepal and Bhutan.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith has said the government would finalise routes for transit through road, railway and waterways before any deals are inked with the neighbours.

He directed officials to fix transit fees, suggest ways to scale up capacities of Chittagong and Mongla ports and establish necessary infrastructure on entry and exit points of transit routes and prepare operational modalities of the transit deals.

"The sub-committees have been asked to submit their reports by January, 7, 2011," Tariff commission chairman Mojibur Rahman told the FE, adding private sector experts were also employed to assist the commission.

Rahman heads the core group. Ex-World Bank senior official Sadiq Ahmed of private think tank Policy Research Institute, former UN transport expert M Rahmatullah and Centre for Policy Dialogue have been drafted for the job.

The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has been made focal ministry to implement the strategies as regional trade and connectivity falls under its rules of business.

"The core committee on transit issues will finalise the national policy on transit by January after analysing the reports of the sub committees to be submitted early next month," Rahman said.

The sub-committee on transit routes, infrastructure, required investment and cost recovery will be headed by Dr. M. Rahmatullah, former director of Bangkok-based UN-ESCAP.

The sub-committee on estimation of transit traffic and issues relating to fees and charges is led by Hussain Ahmed, a member of the National Board of Revenue (NBR). He will also lead another sub-body on security and smuggling issues.

Dr. Sadiq Ahmed who heads the PRI will lead the sub-body on economic analysis of transit.

The Executive Director of Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has been made head of the sub-committee tasked to prepare report on key issues of transit among Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan.
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