A high profile meeting on sub-regional cooperation held Wednesday asked different government ministries to undertake efforts for implementing the commitments made in the joint communiqué, signed by Sheikh Hasina and Manmohan Singh, Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India respectively in January last. The meeting held at the conference room of the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) was presided over by Dr. Mashiur Rahman, Economic Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister. About 17 to 18 government secretaries from ministries, including foreign, commerce, communication, finance and power, attended the meeting, sources said. The meeting gave specific responsibilities to different ministries relating to the implementation of all 31 commitments made in the communiqué, it is learnt. “The next meeting on sub-regional cooperation, expected to be held in next month, will overview the progress and barriers, if there is any,” a government secretary, who attended meeting told the FE.
Seven to eight ministries involved in the implementation process have been given the responsibilities to implement the commitments made in the communiqué, he added. The joint communiqué, signed on January 10 in New Delhi, contains 31 commitments made by both India and Bangladesh for their mutual interest in particular, and accelerating the socio-economic conditions of sub-regional countries in general. The commitments made in the communiqué cover the areas of connectivity, port, infrastructure, trade, communication, climate change and regional and multilateral trading arrangements. The major commitments made in the communiqué include declaration of Ashuganj in Bangladesh and Silghat in India as ports of call, use of Mongla and Chittagong sea ports for movement of goods to and from India through road and rail, dredging of the Ichhamati river, removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers, establishing border haats, allowing trucks from Bhutan and Nepal to enter about 200 meters inside the ‘zero point’ at Banglabandha-Phulbari land customs stations. A government secretary, preferring anonymity, however, said the implementation of commitments does not alone depend on the activities and strategies of Bangladesh. It also would demand a serious and sincere approach on the part of India.