The government is going to buy materials for 20 lakh machine-readable passports, as the introduction of new electronic passports (e-passports) has been delayed for six months.
Booklets and lamination foils will be imported from UK-based De La Rue International Ltd, at a cost of Tk 40.71 crores.
The cabinet committee on purchase yesterday in a meeting approved a proposal by the home ministry, at the secretarial in the capital. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presided over the meeting.
The government took the decision so that people do not face any trouble to get passports until e-passports are launched, the minister told journalists after the meeting.
In July 2018, the government signed an agreement with German firm Veridos GmbH to promote Bangladesh into the e-passport era, which was expected to begin in December the same year.
However, authorities of Veridos rescheduled the deadline to July this year, when e-passports will be introduced on a pilot basis. It will be available for all two years later, according to the home ministry proposal.
Due to the delay, the government is going to import machine-readable passport materials from the British company for the second time. So far, between 2013 and 2018, the government has imported the materials for about 2.05 crore passports.
The current demand of the booklet and foil is about 20,000 per day. At present, the Department of Immigration and Passports has enough materials to issue 3,33,993 passports, while materials for 1,74,400 more will arrive soon, said the proposal.
Last June, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a project to introduce e-passports, which many countries of the world are using nowadays.
Under the project, worth around Tk 4,636 crore, some 2.8 crore e-passport booklets will be produced in the country, while 20 lakh will be imported.
Demographic information, fingerprints, photo of cornea and digital signature will be collected and preserved in the government server as part of the e-passport scheme.
At the meeting, the purchase committee approved another proposal of the food ministry to import 50,000 tonnes of wheat. Singapore-based Agrocorp International Pte Ltd will supply the wheat at a cost of USD 268 per tonne.
Mustafa Kamal said the government has so far imported a total of 3.5 lakh tonnes of wheat this fiscal year to meet the domestic need.
Besides, the committee approved another proposal to buy equipment for fire service stations at 156 upazilas across the country, at a cost of Tk 88.44 crore.