Vol. 5 Num 998 Thu. March 22, 2007  
Front Page

Nat'l ID cards, voter list with photos on way
No polls likely before end-2008

The Election Commission (EC) has finally decided to prepare simultaneously national identity cards and a voter list with photographs for holding the stalled ninth parliamentary election.

The massive undertaking is likely to start after July and it will require at least a year to be completed. So, the ninth parliamentary election might be held at the end of 2008 or in early 2009 after the task is completed, senior officials of the EC Secretariat predicted.

"The work of preparing the Voter list and national identity cards will start simultaneously following a single procedure. There is no point in spending time and money separately for the tasks," Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda told reporters yesterday.

The CEC, who on Tuesday had met Chief Adviser (CA) Fakhruddin Ahmed and discussed electoral reforms, said initially people who are eligible to be registered on the electoral roll will be provided with national identity cards.

He said four to five months will be needed to complete the preparatory work including floating tenders, and training field level officials to start the process at a cost of Tk 300 crore to Tk 350 crore. The preparatory work has already been started and it will take some time before the field level work can be started, he added.

Sources said the CEC wants to have a project proposal within two months for preparing the national identity cards and the voter list and a coordination body will be formed which will be led by the EC to supervise the massive undertaking. Several departments of the government and a number of donor agencies are likely to be incorporated in the coordination body, the sources added.

The Bangladesh Army, which has already offered the government and the EC its expertise for the preparation of the identity cards in 10 to 12 months at an estimate cost of Tk 300 crore, might be asked to take the responsibility, sources in the EC said.

About the meeting with the chief adviser, the CEC said they informed the CA about the activities of the EC. "The chief adviser has given us some suggestions in this regard," he said.

The EC is now preparing a draft for electoral reforms which will be completed by next July.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon met the CEC yesterday morning and discussed electoral issues.

Talking to reporters the CEC said at the meeting they discussed the plans and progress of the work for holding the next election. The commonwealth secretary general emphasised the need for holding the election as soon as possible, the CEC said.