Due to the delay in introducing electronic passports, the government is going to purchase another 20 lakh Machine Readable Passport (MRP) books to meet the immediate requirement.
The cabinet committee on purchase yesterday approved a project in this regard costing around Tk 53.4 crore.
The government had a plan to introduce e-passports with 10 years’ validity from July 1 this year. The launch was delayed twice since then.
In September, the cabinet committee okayed a purchase of 20 lakh MRP books.
Talking to the reporters, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal yesterday said they could not introduce the e-passport due to some problems, however, he did not detail the problems.
“It might take another two to three months to introduce e-passports on trial basis,” the minister said, adding that initially, some 500 to 1000 e-passports would be issued.
“Supply of MRP books is inadequate compared to the huge demand for passports. Especially our embassies are complaining on a regular basis that they are not getting the passports on time,” said the finance minister.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a project on June this year to introduce e-passports, which many countries of the world are using nowadays.
In July, the government signed an agreement with German firm Veridos GmbH to promote Bangladesh into the e-passport era.
Around 120 countries have already introduced e-passports so far.
Bangladesh introduced the MRP and machine-readable visa system in April 2010, following the International Civil Aviation Organisation guidelines.
The committee yesterday also approved three other proposals, including the construction of a four-lane road from Ashuganj River Port to Brahmanbaria’s Sarail at a cost of Tk 2446.27 crore.
Indian farm Afcons Infrastructure Limited has been awarded for the job.
India will finance the major costs of the project.
The road is very important for India to transship their goods to Tripura and other neighbouring states by using the Ashuganj River Port and Chattagram Sea Port.
“Connectivity with India will improve following the construction of the road,” said the finance minister.
Asked about the reasons behind fixing a low service charge for transporting Indian goods using Bangladeshi ports, Kamal said, “We didn’t consider whether we would gain or lose something from the service charge. We saw the issue as a whole.”
The minister said the Bangladeshi exporters would also be allowed to use the road.
The committee yesterday approved another project of developing land for a special economic zone in Narayanganj’s Araihazar upazila.
Japan-based Toa Corporation was awarded the job at a cost of Tk 1081.45 crore.