Bangladesh and the Maldives will sign four new deals and renew one during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s two-day official visit to Male on December 22-23 to further strengthen bilateral ties, especially in areas of trade and investment, health, sports, manpower recruit and transfer of prisoners.
Addressing a press briefing on Sunday, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the Bangladesh Prime Minister will be visiting the Maldives at the invitation of Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The deals to be signed are: 1. Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income; 2. Agreement on the Transfer of Prisoners; 3. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the areas of Health Care and Medical Sciences between Bangladesh and Maldives; and 4. MoU between Bangladesh and the Maldives on Cooperation in the Area of Youth and Sports Development.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet on Sunday also approved the draft deal titled “Agreement between the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Government of the Republic of Maldives on Transfer of Prisoners”.
The approval was given at the regular Cabinet meeting held with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Briefing reporters at the Bangladesh Secretariat, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said there are some Bangladeshis now in the Maldives prisons and the deal is expected to be signed during the ensuing visit of the Prime Minister.
He informed that some 43 Bangladeshi convicts are in the Maldives jails, while 40 other Bangladeshis are on trial there, but no national of the Maldives is in Bangladesh prison.
According to the agreement, prisoners can be transferred from both the countries, said the Cabinet secretary. The Cabinet also endorsed the draft of another agreement over health sector cooperation between Bangladesh and the Maldives.
The Maldives will take qualified health professionals, like clinical specialists, public health specialists, dental surgeons and nurses and other auxiliary staff members from Bangladesh.
During the two-day official visit, Foreign Minister Momen said Bangladesh will gift 13 military vehicles to Maldives as a token of friendship between the two south Asian nations.
He said Maldives is the largest host country of Bangladeshi expatriate workers in the South Asia while it is expected that the Premier’s will create more job opportunities for both Bangladeshi skilled and non-skilled manpower.
As per the programme schedule, the Bangladesh Prime Minister on December 22 will depart Dhaka and reach Male by a VVIP special flight in the afternoon where she will be received by the Maldivian state minister for foreign affairs.
On December 23, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be formally received by Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih while a guard of honour will be accorded to the Bangladesh’s head of government.
On the same day, the Prime Minister will hold a bilateral meeting with the Maldivian President to discuss various issues at the Presidential Palace.
After the meeting, officials concerned of the two countries will sign the instruments in presence of the Bangladesh Prime Minister and the Maldivian President.
Foreign Minister Momen said a joint statement will be issued between the two countries while the two leaders will jointly appear in front of the media.
During the visit, he said the Maldivian Vice-President, the Speaker and the Chief Justice are expected to pay courtesy calls to the Bangladesh PM.
The Bangladesh Premier is expected to address the Maldivian National Parliament. In the evening, Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to attend a state dinner to be hosted by the Maldivian President in her honour.
Besides this, Momen said, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will also exchange greetings virtually with the Bangladeshi expatriates there.
The foreign minister said the Maldivian government has taken initiatives to conduct registration for all undocumented Bangladeshi migrant workers there to make their stay legalised.
Momen said the Maldivian government has informed that the island country, which heavily depends on tourism, is planning to build resorts at its 60 more islands that will create huge job opportunities for the Bangladeshi workforce.
Regarding the connectivity, the foreign minister said the direct air connectivity with Maldives has already been established by private carrier US-Bangla while the state-run Biman Bangladesh airlines is likely to start flight operation between Dhaka and Male soon.
The preparatory work of establishing shipping line between Bangladesh and Maldives is in process.
The foreign minister said Bangladesh would like to continue its friendly ties with all neighboring countries and Dhaka always gives importance on its ties with the South Asian nations.