COMMITTED TO SCALING UP INVESTMENTS IN MARITIME SECTOR

H.E. SHEIKH HASINA, MP HON'BLE PRIME MINISTER, GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH

Welcome to the inaugural ceremony of the second South Asia Maritime and Logistics Forum 2018. I hope that the Forum will play an important role in socioeconomic development of the people through augmenting the region’s trade and commerce. Prior to the emergence of rail and road, water vessels were the main means of transport in Bangladesh. Nearly 700 rivers are flowing through Bangladesh, a land of 1,47,570 sq.km. The rivers and water bodies of Bangladesh are inherently connected to each other and play an important role in socio-economic upliftment of the nation. The internal logistics in Southern Bangladesh is mainly dependent on waterways and livelihood of a huge number of people is connected with this sector.

Restoring the primacy of inland water transport as a logical and competitive mode of transportation is one of the key priorities of the government of Bangladesh. The government is taking measures to reopen the closed river routes, improving their navigability to ensure safe and secure river routes. Savings in transportation cost of cargo resulting from the use of water transport rather than road are estimated at TK7.5 billion whereas the cost of dredging is estimated at TK0.6 billion per anum. In our National Integrated Multimodal Transport Policy, we have put forward a strategy that will seek to strengthen the position of inland waterways in the transport system.

South Asian geographic region is a major focus in recent times because of economic growth, trade and market expansion which in turn creates huge opportunity to expand logistics and maritime related services. With increasing economic growth of the country, international trade is increasing day-byday through waterways. The total export-import through waterways was 43.17mmt in FY2010-11, which increased to 73.21mmt in FY2016-17. With the support of multilateral and bilateral development partners, we will scale up our investments to provide sustained navigability of our waterways, modernize existing river ports, build new ports and inland container depots to improve cargo and passenger handling.

Bangladesh is developing rapidly and hopes to become a middleincome country by 2021. The government of Bangladesh, in cooperation with the government of the Netherlands, has prepared and endorsed the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 which aims to accelerate the GDP growth through proper utilization of water resources.

Average GDP growth over the past decade was over 6.5 per cent and it was 7.86 per cent last year. The poverty rate dropped to 21.8 per cent in 2018 from 4l.5 per cent in 2005-06 and per capital income rose to $1,751 from $543 in the same period. In 2015, the World Bank recognized Bangladesh as lower middle income country and this year Bangladesh

“With the support of multilateral and bilateral development partners, we will scale up our investments to provide sustained navigability of our waterways, modernize existing river ports, build new ports and inland container depots to improve cargo and passenger handling.”

graduated to developing country from LDCs. We have been working to turn Bangladesh into a middle income country by 202l and developed and prosperous one by 2041.

There is a huge potential in maritime sector in South Asia and utilizing the sector it is possible to make a big lead into the socioeconomic development of the people of this region. I sincerely believe that the recommendations of the Second South Asia Maritime & Logistics Forum 2018 will help realize the desired goals. I wish this event a great success and declare it open.