Vol. 5 Num 760 Mon. July 17, 2006  
Front Page

Draft law proposes to make national ID card mandatory for all
Home ministry seeks purchase body nod today for NID, machine-readable passport scheme

The home ministry is seeking approval of the cabinet purchase committee today for a Tk 1,561 crore programme on machine-readable passport (MRP), visa and national identity card (NID) along with a draft law on registration and NID.

Sources said the draft law, first of its kind, seeks to make NID mandatory for every citizen when they apply for a passport, open a bank account, obtain Tax Identification Number (TIN) or while dealing with similar issues.

However, this draft was hurriedly made as a supporting draft legal document for the massive MRP and NID programme.

"The draft law borrows the concept of social security card used in the western countries. But this law was not based on any independent social and demographic survey as was required. It has been framed so that the purchase committee gets the idea about the legal premise on which the MRP-NID programme is based on," said a competent source.

The MRP-NID programme demands a legal framework making national ID cards mandatory for every citizen.

The home ministry believes that the MRP and ID cards will increase acceptability of Bangladeshi passport internationally, which will eventually increase overseas employment, help implementation of the government's national security policy, boost direct revenue earning, and resolve international pressure on Bangladesh on introduction of such passports.

The home ministry has selected German company Giesecke and Devrient (G&D) GmbH for the job through a tender. Once the contract is awarded, the G&D would implement it in five years.

However, the finance ministry has not cleared this scheme while the current budget has no allocation for it. The home ministry will also have to establish a National Registration Department (NRD) to implement the programme and issue the ID cards to the citizens.

The government initiated the project for the machine-readable passport a few years back. The home ministry later tagged the national ID card issue with it, although the two schemes are very different from each other.

On April 24, 2004 the home ministry formed a 13-member committee along with representatives from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) and headed by the ministry's additional secretary. This committee was assigned to determine how the government can introduce MRP, visa and NID.

The committee in its report recommended setting up of the NRD and restructuring of the immigration and passport department and suggested how these should deal with the new passport, visa and ID card.

The home ministry accordingly submitted a proposal to the cabinet committee on public administration reforms and good governance on September 25, 2004. The cabinet committee recommended its approval in principle and the prime minister approved it on October 16, 2004.

As per the prime minister's approval, 15 lakh new applicants and 35 lakh old passport owners will be given machine-readable passports in the first phase of the project, which may be implemented with the revenue budget. The prime minister did not decide on setting up the NRD, neither did the ministry take any initiative to set it up.

The home ministry's proposal to the cabinet purchase committee notes that the first year of the five-year programme will be considered as testing period. During this phase, the contractor will provide necessary hardware, software, local and foreign manpower and consumables to the immigration and passport department.

The offices to be covered by it include the head office in Dhaka, the national issuance centre, and offices at six divisional headquarters and 12 district headquarters.