Connectivity can play vital role in accelerating pace of economic development of Bimstec region, says Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen emphasized the implementation of the Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Master Plan for transport connectivity for the greater benefit of the Bimstec region, on Thursday.
The foreign minister reiterated that connectivity can play a vital role in accelerating the pace of economic development of the Bimstec region through the facilitation of trade and investment, tourism promotion and people-to-people contact.
He received the newly appointed Bimstec Secretary-General Tenzin Lekphell at his office and said Bangladesh wants the Father of the Nation’s dream of regional cooperation to be fulfilled through the Bimstec process.
Dr Momen hoped that Lekphell will be able to play a pivotal role as a bridge among member states for striving hard to achieve the goals.
He laid emphasis on the early conclusion and implementation of necessary agreements, MoU’s and other required legal documents in these sectors to ensure the overall development and wellbeing of the people of the Bimstec region.
Dr Momen said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972 expressed his dream of economic and social prosperity of the South Asian people through a process that involved working with neighbours in the region.
Since then, he said, regional cooperation has been an integral component of the constitution and foreign policy priorities of Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the Father of the Nation, attaches high importance to the Bimstec forum as a tool of regional movement which is manifested in hosting the Bimstec Secretariat in Dhaka, he said.
As per the instruction of the prime minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took an initiative to construct a new, multi-storey, iconic building for the Bimstec Secretariat, he added.
The foreign minister expressed pleasure on Tenzin Lekphell’s appointment as the third secretary-general of Bimstec nominated by Bhutan, the first country to recognize Bangladesh as an independent country.
He welcomed him in Bangladesh and assured him of extending all sorts of support from the government of Bangladesh during his tenure here.
Dr Momen said the implementation process of the Bimstec cooperation in various sectors must be expedited on a priority basis to harness quick dividends for people in the Bay of Bengal region, through the exploitation of the full potential of this region.
The foreign minister urged the new secretary-general that Bimstec with its 24 years of existence must produce visible results now.
Dr Momen said the Bimstec region has huge prospects for economic cooperation since much of the potential remains unexplored and unexploited.
The Bimstec process needs concerted and quicker efforts, and intense engagements amongst the member states for bringing out the best possible results for the mutual benefits of the people of the region, he said.
Dr Momen said the Bimstec forum provides an excellent platform to combat the devastating impact of Covid-19 in the Bimstec region.
“The Bimstec platform can be used to address multi-prong challenges in the post-Covid-19 era in an effective and powerful manner. The secretary-general can play an effective and vital role in faster coordination and facilitation of this process,” he added.
Dr Momen said Bangladesh, as the lead country for trade, investment and development, is strongly committed to strengthening Bimstec cooperation in this important field.
The relevant ministries and agencies of Bangladesh are ready to host all required meetings and events in this regard to foster the areas of cooperation, he said.
This sub-regional organization came into being on June 6, 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It constitutes seven member states: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.