Now someone in the government is talking sense about transit. One could not agree more with the finance minister that with the present condition of our infrastructure Bangladesh is not yet in a position to allow transit of goods overland.
It is unfortunate that in Bangladesh the matter has turned out to be controversial. There are very little grounds to oppose the plan that rests on the core idea of connecting the region. And for Bangladesh, being where it is, the gift of geography has endowed it with a huge potential to derive strategic benefits as well be the connecting hub of not only between the countries of South Asia but also between the region and South East Asia. It is a pity that the matter has been politicised to such an extent that the ground realities and the economics of the issue are often lost sight of.
For Bangladesh it would be unwise not to exploit the potential benefits. And while talking about transit, the facility, as we understand, should be offered to all the regional countries, particularly the land-locked ones for their access to ports in Bangladesh.
We are dismayed by the way the issue has been dealt with by the successive governments. While we were disappointed to see the matter dismissed out of hand by the BNP led 4-Party alliance during its tenure, we have been quite unable to see the rationale in the undue rush to provide the facility to India, and that too at cost to our existing infrastructure, by the present government. We are also disconcerted at the inability of the government to work out the economics of the issue and fix the charges, because there is no way that Bangladesh can allow the use of its territory, nor can the services it will provide in allowing transit be, free of charge. In fact, anything else would be contrary to international practice.
Thus we feel that in the true regional spirit the infrastructure should be got ready quickly and first, and if the Indian line of credit regarding this is restrictive, persuade Delhi to relax it or arrange for alternative financing.