The Election Commission has taken up a Tk 16 billion new project aiming to distribute smart NID cards among citizens with local funds.
The World Bank is no longer willing to fund the project which expires in December while EC has scrapped a deal signed with French company Oberthur Technologies in 2015 under the project.
“The new project has been designed in line with IDEA and will soon be sent to the planning ministry for approval,” Md Mokhlesur Rahman, additional secretary at EC, told bdnews24.com.“We will make amendments as per recommendations from the ministry and present it to the ECNEC (Executive Committee of the National Economic Council),” he said.
The distribution of smart NID cards will resume under the project at the end of this year, if the government approves it.
“We have taken up this new project to continue with the distribution of cards and related activities, such as production and personalisation” Mokhlesur said.
The new project aims to keep the existing manpower on board at the server station, he added.
The EC has been distributing national ID cards since 2008. The National Identity Registration Wing of the EC took up the previous project, IDEA, with funds from the World Bank.Smart NIDs have reached only 10.05 million people so far whereas there are more than 100 million voters in the country. IDEA aimed to distribute smart cards among all of them by December 2017 but EC officials fear that the number may not reach more than 20 million within that timeframe.
Moreover, around 2.5 million new voters will be registered by then.
Brig Gen Sultanuzzaman Md Saleh Uddin, director general at the NID Registration Wing, said: “The World Bank is not interested anymore. But we have to keep the project ongoing.”
The proposed project will start on Jan 1 next year and will expire in 2022. It will require 2,024 workers, according to Saiful Hoque Chowdhury, senior assistant chief at EC Secretariat.
The IDEA will not be renewed. The EC will personalise the smart cards on its own at state-owned Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory Ltd and distribute them, said Helaluddin Ahmed, acting secretary to the EC.
Source: BD News 24