Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has said it is up to the next government and parliament to pursue the motor vehicle agreement involving Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN).

At the Meet the Press on October 13, the prime minister reiterated that the government believes that the implementation of the BBIN agreement would benefit the country.

“The opportunities far outweigh the risks. We were able to negotiate for a situation where our vehicles enter their countries where as their vehicles would stop at our border,” he said. “We thought that his would be good for the economy.”

However, he said that the issue was politicised heavily. Those against the agreement, he said, succeeded in halting the ratification of the agreement. “Most people were convinced that this was bad for Bhutan.”

Lyonchhen said future governments might pursue the agreement. “In this government’s term, we will not pursue it. It will be up to the next government and parliament,” he said.

The joint sitting of Parliament in June deferred the BBIN agreement that seeks to facilitate seamless cross-border movement of passenger and cargo vehicles in the sub-region. The transport ministers of the four countries signed the agreement in June 2015.

Information and Communications minister DN Dhungyel said the agreement was signed with a clear vision of bringing regional cooperation and additional business for all the member countries.

He said that while the government was of the opinion that it would bring all the positives, some parliamentarians did not give their support for its ratification.

The minister stated that the three other countries –Bangladesh, India and Nepal – were at the verge of implementing the agreement. “Where as in Bhutan, we could not ratify the agreement as there are reservations and resentment from the people as well as parliamentarians.”

“We have deferred the ratification of the agreement,” he said. He added that the government believes that the agreement would benefit the country and that it would continue to convince the people and the parliament.

“However, we do not see that possibility of ratifying the agreement in the nearest future. We are hopeful that the subsequent parliament, may be the third parliament, may pursue it,” Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said.

MB Subba