DHAKA, Feb 26 � Bangladesh has underlined the need to strengthen the infrastructure in the country to facilitate an �effective� transit facility to its neighbours, including India, which has been seeking the service to transport goods to its landlocked northeastern states, reports PTI.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith hinted that the proposed transit facility to neighbouring countries, including India, Nepal and Bhutan could take time to become functional. �Transit is important but the development of infrastructures is the basic and more important for making the transit effective,� he said at a seminar on India-Bangladesh relations yesterday.
Transit between Bangladesh and India has been functional since the 1947 Partition of the subcontinent. It was stalled only for a brief period during the India-Pakistan war in 1965.
The Awami League government maintains that it is just updating the expansion of the old transit deals and working out the operational modus operandi.
�Sometimes transit was reasonably exploited. Sometimes its use was minimal, as in the past few years,� Muhith said. Muhith expressed disappointment at the �poor progress� in intra-regional trade which now stood at less than 5 per cent among SAARC countries.
The Finance Minister played down fears of �fraudulent activities� as a result of the facility, saying �modern technology can check such activities very easily�.
India and Bangladesh had agreed to put in place a comprehensive framework of cooperation in transportation and connectivity during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina�s maiden New Delhi visit in January 2010.
Bangladesh had agreed to allow the use of Mongla and Chittagong seaports for movement of goods to and from India by road and rail to its landlocked north-eastern states � Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura � known as the �Seven Sisters�.
The two neighbours were expected to sign a deal during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh�s Dhaka visit in September last year.