Trans­port Min­is­ters meet in Thim­phu

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The Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Asian Devel­op­ment Bank is host­ing the first meet­ing of the Trans­port Min­is­ters from Bangladesh, Bhutan, In­dia and Nepal (BBIN) to­mor­row in the cap­i­tal. The Trans­port Min­is­ters’ Meet­ing will be pre­ceded by a prepara­tory meet­ing of BBIN trans­port sec­re­taries or joint sec­re­taries and se­nior of­fi­cials on 14th June 2015. Ini­tially pro­posed as a SAARC agree­ment, it was not signed dur­ing the eigh­teenth SAARC Sum­mit in Novem­ber 2014. It was sub­se­quently scaled down to a sub-re­gional level com­pris­ing four coun­tries form­ing part of the South Asia Sub-re­gional Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (SASEC) ini­tia­tive.

The sub-re­gional draft agree­ment was fi­nal­ized dur­ing a spe­cial meet­ing of the trans­port sec­re­taries in Fe­bru­ary this year held at Kolkata. The same meet­ing also de­cided to hold the meet­ing of the Trans­port Min­is­ters to sign the mo­tor ve­hi­cle agree­ment (MVA). The pri­mary ob­jec­tive of such an agree­ment is to fa­cil­i­tate through trans­port to help in­ter­na­tional trade.

The BBIN MVA is a frame­work agree­ment and it is en­vis­aged that im­ple­men­ta­tion de­tails such as those re­lated to cus­toms for­mal­i­ties, lo­cal per­mits, re­pair of ve­hi­cles, tem­po­rary en­try of ve­hi­cles, re­fu­el­ing fa­cil­ity, in­sur­ance is­sues, fees and charges, des- ig­na­tion, and other op­er­a­tional as­pects will be set out in the bi­lat­eral or per­haps tri­lat­eral agree­ments and pro­to­cols.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the BBIN MVA will be guided by the yet to be es­tab­lished Na­tional Land Trans­port Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Com­mit­tees or their equiv­a­lent to be es­tab­lished in each coun­try. At the sub-re­gional level, a joint BBIN Land Trans­port Fa­cil­i­ta­tion Com­mit­tee will be con­sti­tuted and man­dated with the re­spon­si­bil­ity to dis­cuss and re­solve is­sues re­lated to the MVA. The Chair­man of the na­tional level com­mit­tee or a rel­e­vant mem­ber will par­tic­i­pate in the meet­ings of the joint BBIN Com­mit­tee.

The Trans­port Min­is­ters Meet­ing, among oth­ers, will dis­cuss the pro­posed ar­range­ments to im­ple­ment the agree­ment on cross-bor­der move­ment of ve­hi­cles in the BBIN coun­tries, re­view the list of pri­or­ity re­gional road con­nec­tiv­ity projects in the sub-re­gion and fi­nal­ize and sign the frame­work agree­ment on cross­bor­der move­ment of ve­hi­cles in the BBIN coun­tries.

Sub­se­quent to the sign­ing of the frame­work agree­ment, de­tails of the im­ple­men­ta­tion ar­range­ments will be worked out among the coun­tries ei­ther on bi­lat­eral or tri­lat­eral ba­sis. The ul­ti­mate aim of the agree­ment is to fa­cil­i­tate seam­less cross-bor­der move­ment of ve­hi­cles with the ob­jec­tive of elim­i­nat­ing or re­duc­ing trade bar­ri­ers by mak­ing the en­tire sys­tem ef­fi­cient. It is fur­ther ex­pected that the agree­ment would trans­form the trans­port cor­ri­dors link­ing the BBIN coun­tries.

A se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties are planned, lead­ing to the start of ac­tual im­ple­men­ta­tion of the BBIN MVA. The tar­get is to com­plete all the pro­cesses dur­ing a pe­riod of twelve months from the date of sign­ing the agree­ment and will de­pend on the time taken to com­plete other re­main­ing in­ter­nal re­quire­ments such as rat­i­fi­ca­tion by the re­spec­tive par­lia­ment, as may be rel­e­vant.

Ly­onch­hen Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay will inaugurate the BBIN trans­port min­is­ters meet­ing on to­mor­row.

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