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Bangladeshi expats in UK, S Arabia to get NID cards

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 22 August, 2023 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Bangladeshi expats in UK, S Arabia to get NID cards

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The Election Commission (EC) has decided to provide smart National Identity (NID) cards for Bangladeshi expatriates living in the United Kingdom (UK) and Saudi Arabia on a priority basis after registering them into the voter list.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the commission held on Monday with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal in the chair.

At present, the EC is providing NID cards for the Bangladeshi expatriates living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under a pilot project.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, EC Secretary Jahangir Alam said a discussion was held on providing NID cards for the Bangladeshi expatriates living in the UK and Saudi Arabia on a priority basis.

“The programme is now being run in the UAE. Later, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested us to start work in two more

countries -- the UK and Saudi Arabia. The EC has discussed the issue,” he said.

 The EC secretary hoped that they will be able to provide the NID services for the Bangladeshi expatriates in the UK and Saudi Arabia before the next general election due by January.

The EC started issuing NID services to expatriate Bangladeshis digitally during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the process started in six countries, the current commission started issuing the smart cards in the UAE in July last.

The EC will start the registration process in 13 more countries -- Kuwait, Oman, Malaysia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Italy, Singapore, Lebanon, Libya, Australia, the Maldives and Canada -- gradually.

More than 5,000 expatriates in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the UAE, the UK and the Maldives have already applied to get the NID cards.

The demand for bringing Bangladeshi expatriates under the voter list and providing them with NID cards was made about 15 years back when the voter list with photos was launched.

The commission, led by KM Nurul Huda, started the online registration process in Malaysia in November 2019 after overcoming various complications regarding the voter registration of expatriate Bangladeshis. But the coronavirus pandemic halted the initiative.

Meanwhile, the EC secretary said the commission also decided to make the draft law of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners (Remuneration and Privileges) Ordinance, 1983 in Bangla.

He said the ordinance will be translated into Bangla and sent to the Ministry of Law.

In response to a question, Jahangir said the existing facilities of the CEC and other commissioners will remain the same.

 “The CEC shall have the same privileges as a Justice of the Appellate Division and the commissioners will get the same privileges as the justices of the High Court Division,” he said.

 The recruitment policy of polling officers, panel preparation guidelines, training schedule of polling officers and entertainment allowance of field officials during polls were also discussed at the meeting.