Move for passage of LBA bill soon: Manmohan

BSS, New Delhi :
Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh yesterday said her government would take initiatives for amendment to the constitution for approval of the much- awaited land boundary agreement (LBA) with Bangladesh in the upcoming session of Rajya Sabha.
The Indian premier said this when visiting Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed called on him at his official residence here.
The deal was signed between the then Prime Minister of Bangladesh Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi in 1974.
In the last session of Rajya Sabha, the Indian government placed a bill for amendment to the constitution to pave the way for passage of the LBA agreement with Bangladesh. To this effect, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was inked between Dhaka and New Delhi during the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Bangladesh in 2011.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Tofail said he had discussed different issues with Manmohan including promotion of trade and commerce and increasing investment and connectivity in the region.
“During the talks, the Indian premier laid emphasis on boosting connectivity for expansion of trade,” the commerce minister said.
During the meeting, Tofail reached a message of greetings of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the Indian premier.
In reply, Manmohan congratulated Sheikh Hasina on her landslide victory in the January 5 polls and assumption of the office of the Prime Minister for the second consecutive term. Later, the commerce minister met his Indian counterpart Ananda Sharma at his office.
At the meeting, the two ministers agreed on resolving the pending issues related to trade and commerce between Bangladesh and India speedily through discussion. They also put emphasis on making the Joint Working Group of the Commerce Ministries of the two countries more effective and solving the problems within specific timeframe after identifying those.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Tarik A Karim was present on the occasion. Talking to reporters after the meeting, the Bangladesh commerce minister said India has allowed duty-free access of all Bangladeshi products except alcohol and tobacco to Indian market. “But Bangladesh cannot exploit this scope due to various reasons including non-tariff and para-tarrif barriers,” he said.
Tofail mentioned that Bangladesh is encountering big problems to export its products to India as the latter does not accept the certificate on examining quality issued by Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI).
The Bangladesh commerce minister said he has raised this issue before his Indian counterpart during the talks.
In reply, Ananda Sharma assured of solving this problem and said India would provide all kinds of assistance in modernization of the BSTI.
“The Indian commerce minister responded positively to my proposal for raising the number of border haats to four from two,” Tofail said.
The Indian commerce minister congratulated Sheikh Hasina on her landslide victory in the January 5 polls and assumption of the office of the Prime Minister for the second consecutive term through his Bangladesh counterpart. Tofail is now visiting India to join the two-day SAARC Business Leaders Conclave.
During the visit, the commerce minister called on Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and the Indian PM’s Security Adviser. He also exchanged views with eminent journalists and intellectuals of India.