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 Machine-readable passports in July...............

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PostSubject: Machine-readable passports in July...............   Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:18 pm

All Bangladesh passports issued from this July will be machine readable and no one will be allowed to travel without such a document after Apr, 2010, the planning minister said Thursday.

"The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) has stipulated that all countries introduce machine readable passports (MRP) and visas (MRV) by Apr, 2010," A K Khandaker told reporters after an ECNEC meeting, chaired by the prime minister. "This has compelled us to take up this project as quickly as possible."

The meeting gave the go-ahead to the 283 crore project for issuing 1.74 crore regular and 10 lakh urgent passorts in just five years.

Each passport will cost Tk 5,000 in one-off fee. The government expects to get Tk 9,200 crore in fees.

The project will spend Tk 195 crore in the first year.

Officials say the manual passports have always been prone to forgery.

"It has been easier to forge, since these are hand-written and the photo and signature are pasted manually," one official said.

The absence of a database, they say, also creates scope for issuance of more than one passport for one person. "This is a key reason why Bangladesh nationals often face problems with their passports," the official said.

A much-talked about project that created controversy during the BNP-led 2001-6 government, it had never been placed before the ECNEC. There were attempts, according to allegations widely reported in the media, to bypass the ECNEC and get the project cleared through the cabinet purchase committee.

But it was never approved.

Other projects

The minister said the government will spend Tk 897 crore on four other projects, approved in Thursday's meeting.

District Road Development Project (Dhaka zone) got Tk 374 crore, and Demra-Amulia-Rampura (Shekherjaiga link) road construction and Demra-Sayedabad link road development (amended) project was given Tk 98 crore.

Police will spend Tk 111 crore to become more efficient..

A poverty reduction and self employment scheme run by BITAC or Bangladesh Industrial and Technical Assistance Centre was awarded Tk 31 crore.
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