THE International Civil Aviation Organisation has set November 24 as the deadline for nationalities all over the world to avail Machine Readable Passports (MRP), giving almost two lakh Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia a headache as they race against time to obtain the new passports. Under the new deadline, workers without the MRPs will be considered illegal workers and embassy officials in Riyadh are working overtime to make sure the new passport is available to all the workers in time. We are pleased with the proactive steps taken by the government in this regard and hope that the deadline is met.
Without the MRPs, the expat workers will not be able to transfer their work permits in order to change professions and there is also the threat of deportation. While the steps taken by the government so far have been commendable, they are, by the ambassador's own admission, not enough to complete the work in time. As a result, the recent deals to outsource the task to private firms from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are of vital importance. The authorities must be alert, however, in monitoring the performance of these private firms to make sure they are carrying out the job efficiently and in due time. In the past, outsourced contracts in various sectors have had the penchant for being slow and inefficient. We hope that is not the case in this instance as it could potentially threaten the livelihood of many expatriate workers and affect our remittance flow negatively.