Govt keen to turn border haats into ‘broader’ markets

PMO sees all Bangladeshi, imported products tradable

Nazmul Ahsan
Law enforcers work to maintain orders at a border haat with India along Chhagalnaiya in Feni on January 31. The Prime Minister’s Office is keen to turn the existing border haats into ‘broader’ haats along the India-Bangladesh frontiers to allow all Bangladeshi and imported goods to be traded, instead of only locally produced goods. — Focusbangla photo

Law enforcers work to maintain orders at a border haat with India along Chhagalnaiya in Feni on January 31. The Prime Minister’s Office is keen to turn the existing border haats into ‘broader’ haats along the India-Bangladesh frontiers to allow all Bangladeshi and imported goods to be traded, instead of only locally produced goods. — Focusbangla photo

The Prime Minister’s Office is keen to turn the existing border haats into ‘broader’ haats along the India-Bangladesh frontiers to allow all Bangladeshi and imported goods to be traded, instead of only locally produced goods.
PMO is also in favor of doubling the current threshold of transaction to US$ 200 and simplifying border haat management criteria to make their operation simple and attractive for frontier population of both the countries, a top official source said.
A letter from the PMO, signed by prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s economic affairs adviser Moshiur Rahman, has been sent to commerce ministry last week for prompt action, and make the border haats more operational.
‘All local and imported goods should be allowed for trade at the haats,’ reads the letter.
The letter asked the commerce ministry for holding discussion with the Indian counterpart to settle issues related to the border haats, introduced in October 2010.
The letter pointed out that so many government agencies like customs, district administration, banks and border guard involved in running the haats made their operations complicated.
The Haats, now numbering four, would be increased to 20 in future, officials said, after the commerce ministry recently gave go-ahead to another four new haats to be operative soon in bordering areas in Sylhet and Rangpur divisions, a senior trade official said.
Preferring anonymity, he, however, said imported products if included in the list of tradable items for border haats would complicate their operation and as imported items involve customs duty.
India in a proposal sent to the government recently sought the transaction limit by an individual buyer or trader to be increased to at US$ 300 dollar from the current threshold of US$ 100.
It also asked the Bangladesh government to increase the number of haats to 20, and number of traders to 100 from the current 25, sources said.

‘We are of the opinion that the threshold of transaction should be raised to US$ 200 as the interest and participation among the bordering districts’ people have increased for such haats,’
Monoj Kumar Roy, additional secretary, ministry of commerce, told New Age.
He said Dhaka would push India to allow educational items like pen, pencil, school bags, note books, and different types
of plastic and leather shoes in the existing product list for trade in the border haats.
The first border Haat in Bangladesh started operation on October 23, 2010 at Baliamari (Kalaichar) under Kurigram, followed by Lawaghar (Balat) in Sunamganj district.
The current provision stipulates only twenty-five vendors from the bordering villages within the five-kilometre radius of the market will be able to sell their produce up to US$ 100.
According to the existing MoU on border haat, only locally produced items are eligible for trading. The ‘locally produced’ means, ‘products produced in the concerned border district of designated border haat’.
Items now included in the product list for the border haats are locally produced agriculture commodities, horticulture products including spices whether dried or powdered, minor forest products excluding timber, ceramics, plastic and aluminum products, cosmetics, toiletries, fresh and dry fish, dairy, fishery and poultry products.

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