The Election Commission has prepared a proposal for the second phase of a project to distribute smart NID cards among all citizens aged above 10.
The commission makes the move despite having missed four deadlines for the first phase of the project, causing its cost to go up.
Under the second phase of the Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA) project, the EC is now planning to distribute smart NID cards among over 17.73 crores citizens, who would be above 10 by 2025.
During the first phase, the commission is supposed to personalise and supply NID cards to about 9 crore voters up to upazila level. However, it has personalised and supplied 6.5 crore cards till date, said EC officials.
After missing four deadlines, the first phase of the project is now set to be completed next month. Its cost has risen to Tk 1,696 crore, up from the primary budget of Tk 1,379 crore.
Against such a backdrop, the EC is going to place its proposal on the Tk 1,805 crore second phase project before the Ecnec soon.
Speaking to The Daily Star yesterday, EC Senior Secretary Md Alamgir said the proposal is likely to be placed before the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) today. He expressed hope that the committee would give the go-ahead to the proposal.
"This project is part of our target to hand identity cards to all citizens by 2030," he said.
IDEA Project Director Brig Gen Mohammed Saidul Islam said they were planning modernisation of the NID server and data centre, aiming to have a secure, accurate and reliable national identification system in the country, which is critical for fighting corruption and providing more efficient services to the people.
Squadron Leader Kazi Asikuzzaman, IDEA project officer in charge of operation, planning and communication, said they would give smart NID cards to all citizens aged over 10 as part of the project.
Till now, the EC has given smart NID cards to citizens aged 18 and above.
Asikuzzaman said there are lists of 10.98 crore voters in the server. According to an estimate, another 3.93 crore will be eligible for enrolment as voters and about 2.84 crore will be aged between 10 to 17 by 2025.
The commission will need to produce another 10 crore NID smart cards till 2025 to achieve its target.
According to the EC proposal, the second phase of the IDEA project will be implemented between July 2020 and June 2025. Other targets of the project include expansion of NID database and updating it to make the existing server more efficient and help the EC have a flawless voter list.
"We will need to modernise and enhance the database and server as the number of people and voters are increasing every day. Although the target was set at distribution of nine crore smart NID cards, we now have 10.98 crore voters," said Saidul.
WHY THE DELAY?
Five-year-long first phase of the IDEA project was launched in 2011, aiming at establishing a secure, accurate and reliable national identification system in Bangladesh. It targeted at providing smart NID cards to about 9 crore adult people who are registered in the voter list.
Alamgir said they started preparing a new project in 2017 which was delayed for different reasons and it eventually caused the delay in the implementation of the first phase of the project.
Giving reasons for the delay, Saidul said they had to scrap a deal with French firm Oberthur Technologies (OT) due to its failure to complete the production and supply of all smart NID cards on time.
Within the June 2017 deadline, the company could produce 7.73 crore blank cards and only 12.41 million of those were personalised. It supplied 10.98 million cards to upazila election offices within that period.
The EC itself is now personalising blank NID cards.
Saidul said once the second phase of project is implemented, Bangladesh will be capable of producing smart NID cards with necessary security features.