India and Bangladesh on Monday signed six MOUs to strengthen development cooperation between the two countries. Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale and his Bangladesh counterpart M Shahidul Haque witnessed the signing of the documents at state guesthouse Padma here after a bilateral meeting between them.
“Today, we add another 6 documents to our large and growing list of meaningful agreements signed during the recent visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India,” said Vijay Gokhale.
These include the implementation MoU on the friendship pipeline between Numaligarh and Parbatipur, an MoU on cooperation between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh Betar, an MoU for setting up an ICCR Urdu Chair in Dhaka University and an Addendum to the GCNEP-BAEC Interagency Agreement.
They have also signed two more MoUs for grant projects whereby both sides will set up language labs in 500 schools in Bangladesh and upgrade different roads in Rangpur city.
This is part of our endeavour to undertake projects in Bangladesh in various socio-economic sectors, including education, culture, health, community welfare, road infrastructure etc, for which we are providing Tk1,600 crore under grant financing,” said the Indian Foreign Secretary.
Vijay Gokhale said India remains a committed development partner of Bangladesh and they have totally extended lines of credit of over US$ 8 billion to Bangladesh in the last seven years. This is the largest amount of credit India has ever committed to any single country. We are confident that this credit will be useful to Bangladesh as it pursues its developmental priorities,” he said.
From 2008-09, the bilateral trade has almost tripled from USD 2.75 billion to 7.52 billion in 2016-17. The Indian Foreign Secretary said Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia.
Some 13 agreements in the private sector worth nearly US$ 10 billion were signed during the visit of Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India last year, in areas such as energy, logistics, education and medicine.
“We are committed to further tap the immense potential that exists in this field,” Mr Gokhale said. The cooperation in the area of energy and power sector is a source of immense satisfaction to both of them, he said.
India is currently supplying 660 MW of power to Bangladesh and they are on course to add at least 500 MW more by this June. The Indian Foreign Secretary said they expect that the solar-based telecommunication project to be undertaken in Bangladesh within the ISA framework will help increase mobile connectivity in remote areas such as the Haor and Sundarbans.
“We’re also confident that the initiatives that we have jointly identified in the oil and gas sector will yield immense benefits to both our peoples,” he said.
India has also been organizing a number of capacity-building programs for Bangladeshi officials in different fields, including civil servants, police officers, judicial officers, customs officers, fire-fighters, etc. “We are happy to do more. More than 1500 scholarships and training programs are awarded every year to Bangladeshi nationals,” said the Indian Foreign Secretary.