Regular transit after trial | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 12, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 12, 2011

Regular transit after trial

Says PM's adviser, gives no timeframe

The government will allow regular transit of Indian goods through Ashuganj river port following the ongoing trial run, but no specific timeframe has yet been set for regular use of the port by India.
The current trial run of transit for India through Ashuganj port is based on the revised Bangladesh-India Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) that was signed in May last year.
Prior to that India was getting transit by a river route through Zakiganj since 1972, based on the original PIWTT renewed from time to time. The current revised protocol will expire in March next year.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman told reporters yesterday that before allowing regular transit, a new protocol has to be signed or the existing one has to be renewed.
Asked by when regular transit will be allowed, Mashiur said it depends on how interested India is.
He said the charges and fees under the existing PIWTT also have to be revised. Those will be fixed by adding a "reasonable return" for the country with the maintenance cost of the routes, he said.
Mashiur made the statements replying to reporters' queries at a discussion organised by Economic Reporters' Forum at the National Press Club in the capital, and afterwards while talking to a small group of journalists.
At a high level meeting early this month, with Mashiur Rahman in the chair, it was decided that the shipping ministry, law ministry, and the National Board of Revenue will formulate a guideline for providing regular transit to India through Ashuganj port.
Shipping ministry officials said the guideline will contain matters relating to how the customs procedure will be maintained, and whether additional fees will be charged.
Mashiur said yesterday that under the present trial run through Ashuganj port a total of four to six ships will be allowed transit.
He said multi-modal transit is a new thing for Ashuganj port, so a trial run is being used to find out what kinds of problems might arise in such a transit.
It will not be right to relate the recent failure to reach Teesta water sharing agreement with giving India transit through Ashuganj port, said Mashiur.
He said Bangladesh is continuing talks with India on various deals, by some of which Bangladesh will benefit more than India, while India will benefit more by some others.
Overall both countries will be ultimately benefited, he added.
When asked how India will be charged for multi-modal transit, Mashiur said inefficient people would charge on the basis of separate modes of transport and the weight of the cargo, but efficient people would charge a lump sum based on the route being used.
There will be two types of charges, one of which will be paid by the Indian government, and the other will be paid by the transport companies, the adviser said.
According to the 1972 protocol, India currently pays a fixed fee of Tk 5.25 crore annually as route maintenance charge. Pilotage fee, canal charge, berthing charge, landing and shipping charge, and freight charge are paid per ship by transport companies.

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