Pranab heads to Dhaka for signing of $1 bn credit pact

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Building on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi eight months ago, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee travels to Dhaka Saturday for the signing of a $1 billion soft loan agreement, the largest single package India has given to any country.

Mukherjee is expected to meet his counterpart A.M.A. Munith and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and review the progress in bilateral ties after the transformational visit to India by the Bangladesh prime minister in January this year.

During his visit lasting barely a few hours, he will also call on Sheikh Hasina and announce a gift of 3 lakh tonnes of rice for Bangladesh, sources said.

Mukherjee will witness the signing of the $1 billion line of credit agreement by CMD, EXIM Bank of India and secretary, Economic Relations Division (ERD) of Bangladesh, sources said.

The $1 billion credit package, agreed during Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi, will be used for a host of projects for the development of communication infrastructure, mostly in railway sector, and dredging in major rivers.

The visit by Mukherjee, widely considered the number two in the Manmohan Singh government, is aimed at countering perception in some quarters in Bangladesh about India’s alleged lacklustre attitude towards implementing key projects and pacts agreed during Sheikh Hasina’s visit.

The Bangladesh High Commission here is, however, upbeat about an increased momentum in bilateral ties. ‘The pace is set to accelerate. There was a huge economic delegation from Bangladesh recently and there are more bilateral interactions on the way,’ Enamul Haq Choudhury, minister (press) in the high commission, told IANS.

A team of Bangladesh’s National Board of Revenue officials is already in New Delhi to learn from the Indian experience in taxation. Communications Minister Syed Abul Hussain will be here early next week.

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