Bangladesh has initiated a dialogue with a Myanmarese company to buy hydropower from Rakhaine State of the neighbouring country.

“Discussion is going on and I myself had talks with the company officials about importing electricity,” Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said at a press conference in Dhaka yesterday.

The private firm has been awarded contracts to set up two hydropower projects, mentioned the minister adding, of the two, one 80 megawatt plant will start production in 2015 and another 800 megawatt project will be operative in 2018.

“I met with them on January 23 in Yangoon during my visit there to attend the 13th ministerial meeting of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation [BIMSTEC] and the company agreed to sell hydropower on completion of the projects.”

She mentioned that import of electricity from Myanmar would require two grid lines in either side of the border. However, pricing of electricity is yet to be finalised.

Referring to her meeting with the Myanmar foreign minister, Dipu Moni said various bilateral issues including repatriation of both registered and undocumented Myanmar citizens and easing visa regime were discussed.

Replying to a query she said the Myanmar authorities agreed to repatriate its refugees as early as possible. She said 28,000 Myanmar refugees are in Bangladeshi camps while the figure of unregistered citizens might be 3 to 5 lakh.

Regarding decision to set up permanent secretariat of BIMSTEC in Dhaka, she said it’s a big achievement for Bangladesh and hoped the secretariat will be operational within this year. However, the construction of the permanent building will take a few more years, she added.

The minister termed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to UAE successful.

The premier had talks with her UAE counterpart Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid al Maktoum and the foreign minister. The UAE has agreed to assist developing infrastructure and setting up oil refinery in Bangladesh, noted the minister.

About issuing Machine Readable Passports (MRP) to the Bangladeshi expatriates in UAE, she said Bangladesh missions in UAE will issue the modern passport to meet the December 31 deadline set by UAE.

If we miss the deadline, the UAE authorities have agreed to consider extending the time limit, she added.

Presently there are about more than seven lakh Bangladeshi workers in UAE.

Asked about the fate of Bangladeshi mariners on board the hijacked ship MV Jahan Moni, the minister said all of them are in good health and efforts are underway to free them.

Efforts are underway also to rescue five Bangladeshi workers abducted by Afghan criminals, stated the minister adding, the government is in regular contact with the Afghanistan authorities.