Bangladesh first to have e-passport in S Asia: PM

Special Correspondent

23 January, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh first to have e-passport in S Asia: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said Bangladesh can pride itself for becoming the first country in South Asian to have e-passport which will also brighten the country’s image further in the digital world.

“We are giving e-Passports to the people in the special year of the birth centenary celebrations of the Father of the Nation, which, I believe, will undoubtedly brighten the image of Bangladesh further in the digital world,” she said while inaugurating the e-Passport (electronic passport) services at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.

With the formal opening, Bangladesh entered e-Passport era as the first country in South Asia.

At the function, Home Minister Asaduzzman Khan presented the premier with her e-passport.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh advanced one more step in the digital era by undertaking the e-Passport project.

“Bangladesh is the first country in South Asia and 119th country in the world to introduce e-Passport,” she said, adding that some 118 countries have already introduced e-Passport.

Sheikh Hasina said the goal is to make passport and immigration services time-befitting, keeping pace with the developed world.

She said it is heard that when expatriates return home, they are subject to various types of harassment. “People returning home and going abroad won’t be subjected to harassment in the future due to the introduction of e-passport,” she said.

Noting that the people of the country have achieved financial solvency with the progress of the country’s economy, she said now a large number of people go abroad and expatriates are making a significant contribution to the economy by sending remittances.

“We are paying attention to the needs of the expatriates so that they will in no way be subjected to any type of harassment,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said her government started issuing machine readable passport (MRP) on November 24, 2015 and has now taken measures to provide e-Passports for 10 years since 2018-2019 fiscal year.

“The government has reached the passport, visa and immigration services to the doorsteps of the people with the help of 69 passport offices in 64 districts and 33 immigration check-posts of the country, and the passport and visa wings of 75 Bangladesh missions abroad,” she said.

In the past, there was a problem of fake passports in the country, she said adding that the problem was now totally over.

Sheikh Hasina said people would not fall victim to deception as they (having e-Passport) would easily be able to complete immigration through e-Gates in transparent way.

Mentioning that Bangladesh Awami League in its 2008 election manifesto announced to build the country as Digital Bangladesh, she said the country witnessed a digital revolution and the government had been able to reach internet services almost throughout the country.

The Prime Minister said her government’s goal is to take Bangladesh to a dignified position and it has relentlessly been working to this end.

She congratulated the people as they are getting e-Passport with latest technology in the Mujib Year (2020-2021).

Sheikh Hasina also expressed her gratitude to the people as they kept their trust in her government and gave scope to serve them by extending their mandate to her party.

The e-Passport and automated border control management project involving the cost of Tk 4,569 crore is being implemented by the DIP and German company Veridos GmbH with assistance from the Bangladesh Army under the Security Services Division of the Home Ministry.

The e-Passport is now initially being issued from three offices – Uttara, Jatrabari and Agargaon –of the Department of Immigration and Passports in Dhaka. These offices have the capacity to issue 25,000 passports a day.

A total of 30 million e-Passports will be delivered in 10 years under the project.

The DIP and Germany Veridos signed an agreement on July 19, 2018 for issuance of electronic passports alongside machine-readable ones.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Security Services Division Secretary Shahiduzzaman and German Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Fahrenholtz also spoke at the opening ceremony of e-Passport.

DIP Director General Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed delivered the welcome speech, while e-Passport Project Director Brig Gen Saidur Rahman Khan made a presentation over the e-Passport services.