Launching the much-awaited electronic passport service, along with the automated border control management programme, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said e-passport was a gift for the nation in the “Mujib Borsho”.
“We are handing over e-passport to the people of the country in the ‘Mujib Borsho’, the special year coinciding with the birth centenary celebration of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” she said.
The PM was addressing a function at the city’s Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, marking the launch of e-passport service and automated border control management programme.
Hasina said the two services would brighten Bangladesh’s image in the digital world. She said the country would move another step forward due to the introduction of e-passport.
“There was a problem in the past about the passport as ‘galakata’ [tampered] passport was used at that time. But due to the launching of the e-passport, it [fraudulence] will never happen… the people will not be cheated any more, and they will move with transparency.”
The PM said e-gate was going to be incorporated with e-passport, and once those were introduced, the immigration and passport services would be easier, smooth and of international standard.
She said the government wants to advance through keeping pace with the world, and the Awami League was working to achieve that goal.
“We will celebrate Mujib Borsho from March 17, 2020 to March 17, 2021 and its countdown has already begun… we will also celebrate golden jubilee of the country’s independence in 2021.”
She expressed gratitude to the people for reelecting the Awami League and giving it the opportunity to serve them again.
Talking about expatriate Bangladeshis, the PM said they send remittances which were making huge contributions to the country’s economy. “So, we remain careful to make sure that they don’t become victims of any type of harassment.”
Hasina said 118 countries have already introduced e-passports and Bangladesh is the 119th country to have done this. Bangladesh is the first country in South Asia which has been able to introduce e-passport, she added.
The PM said the government has digitalised all the activities of the Department of Immigration and Passports (DIP) to attain the immigration-related SDG.
“We have also set up 69 passports offices in 64 districts, 33 immigration check posts and passports and visa wings at 75 missions abroad aiming to reach the passport, visa and immigration services to the doorsteps of the people.”
She said the government had launched the Machine Readable Passport (MRP) and Machine Readable Visa (MRV) in 2015.
“The MRPs have so far been issued to about 2.7 crore Bangladeshi citizens, while MRVs to 15 lakh foreigners,” the PM added.
German Ambassador in Dhaka Peter Fahrenholtz and DIP DG Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed were present at yesterday’s programme, chaired by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan.
Later, the home minister formally handed the PM’s e-passport to her.
The premier inaugurated e-passport and automated border control management programme by unveiling a plaque.
She also opened the e-passport complex and visited an enrolment booth of the e-gate.