MAY 15, 2016
There is a general consensus that trade facilitation will benefit all member nations of BBIN. With the regional economy booming well, BBIN motor vehicle agreement is timely proposal for the member nations. Economic growth and flow of goods (interdependently) among the member nations has caught unprecedented pace and it will only grow if the BBIN MVA come into effect.
In the recent times, we have witnessed some hostile comments from most of the transporters. Responses are unwelcoming from cabbies and some section of our community, including some policy makers. Before jumping the gun and drawing conclusion, one has to weigh merits and demerits of this agreement.
Signing this agreement would allow free movement of vehicles in the region. This, the apprehensive section, thinks will take Bhutanese breads away. They have cited only negatives of this move.
But people have to understand that free movement of Indian vehicles in Bhutan already exist. Does this affect business of cabbies and truckers? Uncountable numbers of Indian vehicles ply in our country, is it new thing?
This agreement is not new to Bhutan and India, nor is it to Nepal and India. Vehicles ply every now and then, and it has been trend for last many years. Maybe it will be opening to Bangladeshi vehicles.
By agreeing to this pact, Bhutan is not trying to open to free movement of all the vehicles. There is provision in the pact that Bhutan can put certain issues forth before signing the agreement. Considering the size and population of our country, we cannot make all vehicles to flood in.
This is time to discuss how we can go about in regard to signing this pact. We can limit number of vehicle plying in. Or we can identify final destinations in the country beyond which they cannot ply freely. We can make these foreign vehicles to strictly comply with our road safety rules and other related regulation in order to ensure minimum adverse impact and maximum merits.
Today, our trucks ferrying export goods do not ply freely in sub-continent. Owing to this, huge revenue is being drained out. Transporting oranges from Bhutan to Bangladesh will open business opportunity for truckers and to the cabbies.
More than anything, better trade facilitation will always improve trade volume in the region. Economy of the member nations will be immensely benefitted. BBIN MVA is only trade facilitation; it is not a new dimension that maybe put economy into jeopardy.
There are so many considerations to be made collectively, rather to catching one end firmly and denying to this pact. Cabbies and truckers have to know that more number of foreigners will pump in more revenue, if handle cautiously. Insular economy will never grow unless it opens to open free market.
Thus, signing BBIN MVA has to be re-thought. Three other member states have already rectified the agreement. Bhutan will do it in upcoming parliament and in doing so, it is important that voices of people be heard properly.