The government has cleared a Tk 46.36 billion biometric e-passport project to provide Bangladesh citizens with automatic services to keep pace with other countries.
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told the media the Department of Immigration and Passport will implement the e-passport project with government funding within 2028.
“Many countries like Germany use and accept only e-passports instead of machine readable ones (MRPs) to keep pace with demand and technology. They (Germany) have given us some time to adopt. They won’t accept MRPs after the deadline. That’s why we’ve taken up the project,” the minister said.
Not a decade has passed since Bangladesh introduced MRPs, scrapping hand-written ones.
Officials said the government felt the need for e-passports after noticing a trend of having more than one copy of passport as there was no database of biometric information like fingerprints or iris images of the MRP holders.
The officials said the biometric information of the citizens will be put in the e-passports using a chip to ensure that no one can hide identity.
Shamima Nargis, a member of the Planning Commission, told bdnews24.com: “Once the project is implemented, if the authorities in the US ask for information on a Bangladeshi, he or she can provide everything only by using the passport number.
“All the information will be in the database and can be accessed by searching the passport numbers.”
The ECNEC approved a total of 14 project proposals worth around Tk 170 billion in the meeting, including one to raise the cost of the Padma Bridge project by Tk 15 billion from around Tk 288 billion.
Minister Kamal said the government needed to acquire an additional 1,163 hectares of land to keep the 212 cubic feet soil being dredged to build the bridge.
According to the Padma Bridge project’s website, the government has acquired 1,471 hectares of land for the project.
The other projects cleared in the meeting include construction of a medical college and hospital in Kushtia at Tk 6.11 billion, an underground power sub-station in Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar at Tk 9.5 billion, and logistics and fleet maintenance facilities for Bangladesh Coast Guard.