Nat’l ID cards to be made must for all

Meeting finalises machine readable passport work plan
National identity (ID) cards would be made compulsory for every citizen of the country by amending the citizenship act, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday.
“If necessary laws will be amended to make national ID cards compulsory because laws are for the people’s welfare,” he told reporters after a meeting with Home Minister Sahara Khatun and State Minister for Home Affairs Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj at the home ministry.
Muhith also hinted that in future none would be able to claim citizenship of Bangladesh without the national ID card and Tax Identification Number (TIN) would also not be given without it.
The meeting with Sahara in the chair was held to finalise the work plan on launching the Machine-Readable Passport (MRP) and Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) projects.
The meeting decided to start MRP and MRV after April next year in compliance with an international deadline. It also decided not to issue any non-machine readable passports from April next year. Passports that have validity beyond that period will be acceptable.
During the meeting Muhith proposed linking the national ID card to MRP. “If the national ID cards are linked with machine-readable passports then it would be digitised and it would prevent corruption,” said the finance minister adding that digitisation is the main enemy of corruption.
He said the land registration cell and the police department are the country’s top corruption infested sectors. “Probably the third one is LGRD or the judiciary, I do not know,” he added.
The finance minister said an authority for the national ID cards would be set up. Currently the Election Commission is in authority, he said.
Briefing the newsmen after the meeting, Sahara said the army would place samples of the MRP and MRV soon and then the ministry would give its approval to start the job.
She said Tk 283 crore will be spent on the MRP project and the army will be given the job of preparing machine-readable passports as per the decision of Ecnec. Machine-readable passports will be launched in four colours–red, black, green and yellow.
Currently, 1.20 crore non-machine readable passports are in use and 10 lakh such passports are issued every year.
Sohel Taj said a steering committee on the MRP would be formed with Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder as its head and a project director from the army would be appointed soon on deputation to start the project.
“The project will be implemented through civil and military cooperation,” he said, adding, “The MRP project has been designed keeping the e-passport (a passport that uses biometrics to identify a person) in mind so that we can upgrade to e-passport when time comes.”
The meeting formed an eight-member technical committee, with director general of immigration and passport directorate as its convener, to deal with the MRP project and oversee its technical affairs. The committee has been asked to submit its report within 10 days.   
 
Courtesy of The Daily Star

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