Dhaka, Aug 28 (UNB) - Bimstec leaders will give a big push to make the regional grouping more effective one during its fourth Summit in Kathmandu with a special focus on free trade agreement (FTA), officials said.
They will discuss ways how the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) can emerge as a distinct Bay of Bengal Community without compromising its unique role as the bridge between South Asia and South East Asia.
"Much remains unexploited despite having huge potentials though there have been some significant achievements," an official told UNB.
He said they will try to find out concrete ways to have comprehensive connectivity, boosting regional trade, cooperation in the energy sector, and a joint fight against poverty, as areas of Bimstec cooperation that can benefit the 1.5 billion-strong population.
The fourth Bimstec Summit with the participation of the Heads of State/Government of Member States will be held in Kathmandu, Nepal on August 30 and 31, foreign ministry officials said.
Nepal has assumed the Chairmanship of Bimstec after its third Summit held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar in March 2014.
Formal opening of the summit will take place in Hotel Soaltee.
All the heads of state/government will make their opening remarks during a programme chaired by Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
The Summit will review progress achieved so far in the areas of cooperation and provide guidance to the future work of the organization, officials said.
Just few days ahead of the Summit, heads of missions of member countries in New Delhi stressed on the need for early conclusion of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations.
The Bimstec member countries are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
Some13 years after the framework agreement was finalised, free trade agreement is still on negotiation table.
Officials hope that the Bimstec leaders will show some ways and give common directives to help conclusion of the FTA.
A knowledge paper prepared by core group of experts from Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) made several policy recommendations for a thorough renewal and rejuvenation of Bimstec as the premier regional grouping, committed to securing greater cooperation and integration in the next decade.
The FICCI paper states that Bimstec needs strategic thrusts in select priority sectors if it is keen to emerge as a result-oriented, effective and influential institution.
This macro goal will be achieved by concluding negotiations for FTA agreements and trade facilitation, strengthening infrastructure linkages, deepening regional transport connectivity, facilitating cross-border trade and investment, and tourism, enhancing private sector participation and competitiveness, supporting regional power trading, developing human resources through mutual cooperation, protecting environment and promoting sustainable use of shared natural resources, creating the Bay of Bengal Community (BoBC) and, promoting all-round cooperation in 'soft power' areas, the FICCI document reads.
President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari will meet leaders of BIMSTEC Member States and host a luncheon in their honour on August 30.
The Prime Minister of Nepal will host a dinner with cultural program in the same evening.
The leaders will witness the signing ceremony of the legal instrument of BIMSTEC and consider the draft Kathmandu Declaration of the Summit on August 31.
On Friday, Bimstec leaders will hold an informal meeting at Hotel Soaltee. Following the event, the heads of government will participate in the closing ceremony of the summit, where the Bimstec Kathmandu Declaration will be adopted.
Meanwhile, the Nineteenth Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) of Bimstec was held on Tuesday in Kathmandu while the Sixteenth Ministerial Meeting of Bimstec will be held on Wednesday.
Foreign secretaries from the member countries took part in the meeting chaired by Nepalese Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi.
They prepared the agenda for the 4th Bimstec Summit.
The meeting also prepared a draft for Kathmandu Declaration that will be endorsed by a ministerial-level meeting on Wednesday, said a diplomatic source.
Bimstec foreign ministers will discuss agendas including finding ways to make Bimstec effective and result-oriented.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to leave for Kathmandu on Thursday morning to attend the Summit of the 21-year-old regional grouping.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam will brief media about PM's participation at the Summit, said an official.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali, in a recent panel discussion organized by FICCI in New Delhi said the foreign policy initiatives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government are focused on building stronger regional economic and technical cooperation.
Bangladesh sees the Bimstec forum as a tool for economic development through regional integration, he said.
The envoy mentioned that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was one of the four founding leaders who had inspired the launch of the Bimstec in 1997.
"Her government attaches a high priority to transforming the Bimstec process into a more dynamic, and effective organization— and to strengthen the institutional mechanism to bring about more results," he said.
Dhaka, Aug 28 (UNB) - Cabinet Committee on Purchase is set to consider a proposal for a 150 MW power plant in Syedpur to Chinese bidder Dongfang Electric International Corporation, China in its meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
According to official sources, the state-owned Power Development Board (PDB) has selected the Dongfang Electric as its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor to install the plant on ECA (export credit agency) financing.
Under the ECA financing, the bidder has to arrange the required fund to implement the project at its own cost like supplier`s credit financing. After implementation, the government will repay the loan including its interests.
Normally, such credit is very costly one as the financier charges higher interest rate compared with other financing modalities.
Official sources said the Dongfang was selected at a contract value of $68.485 million (equivalent to Tk 568.29 crore). However, including taxes, the cost stood at Tk 593.39 crore.
PDB officials said the power plant will be a high speed diesel-based one to be installed at Syedpur replacing the existing 20 MW power plant there.
They also informed that the PDB had to invite tender twice to find a suitable bidder for the project as all the 11 bidders were disqualified in the first-time tender.
In the second tender, according to a Power Division document obtained by UNB, some 10 bidders submitted their proposals of which Dongfang Electric came out to be the qualified bidder offering the lowest per kilowatt hour (each unit) generation cost.
Sylhet, Aug 28 (UNB) – A girl has allegedly been gang-raped at Atgram of Zakiganj upazila after being abducted from Sylhet city.
The victim said a gang of miscreants dragged her into a microbus from Natun Bridge area of Kadamtali in the city on Monday evening while she was returning home.
They took her to Kashem Community Centre at Atgram of Zakigan where a total of six men, including the driver, raped her in turns throughout the night.
The victim managed to reach Zakiganj Police Station on Tuesday morning and she fell sick.
Police first took her to Upazila Health Complex and later shifted her to Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital.
Officer-in-charge of Zakiganj Police Station said they were investigating the matter.
Barguna, Aug 28 (UNB) – Two people were killed as a bus hit a motorcycle on Barguna-Barishal regional highway in Betagi upazila in the district on Tuesday.
The deceased were identified as Abdul Aziz Sikdar, 70, and Md Hanif Akon, 75, of the upazila.
Witnesses said the bus crashed into the motorcycle at noon, leaving Aziz dead on the spot and Hanif and another rider Mohammad Liton injured.
The injured were taken to Betagi Health Complex where doctors declared Hanif dead.
Liton was later sent to Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barishal.
Officer-in-charge of Betagi Police Station Mamunur Rashid said they seized the bus and arrested its driver.
Jashore, Aug 28 (UNB) – Amid the ongoing drive against three-wheeled vehicles plying highways, police have dumped around 30 three-wheelers running on Jashore-Benapole highway into a pond near Navaran Highway Police camp.
Paliton Mia, sub-inspector of the police camp, said they were conducting a special drive on Jashore-Benapole and Jashore-Satkhira highways following the government’s move to strictly control the plying of three-wheeled vehicles on the highways.
He said cases were filed against 85 vehicles in the last three days for violating the government order.
Of the vehicles, 30 were dumped into the pond, the police officer added.