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New machine-readable passport (MRP) by April 2010

Ending the uncertainty over issuance of machine-readable passport (MRP), the parliamentary standing committee on home ministry yesterday said the new type of passports would be issued within the international deadline of April 2010.

The parliamentary body also asked police personnel to work "spiritedly and seriously" to ease the nagging tailbacks in the capital.

"The process of issuing machine-readable passport is already well underway. A total of 23 international firms with experience of preparing passports in at least three countries have submitted tenders so far,” Maj Gen (retd) MA Salam, chairman of the standing committee, told reporters after a four and a half hours long meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.

He blamed the last caretaker government for not giving due importance to the MRP project and delaying it.

Salam said the present government promptly took steps to finalise the project for issuing MRP before expiry of the international deadline.

The committee chairman also accused the previous BNP-Jamaat coalition government of delaying implementation of the project.

“The authorities concerned will evaluate the tender documents after the October 27 deadline for submitting tenders and choose a competent firm to implement the project,” said Salam, also lawmaker of ruling Awami League.

Bangladesh must introduce MRP by April next year to comply with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Failure to do it might jeopardise Bangladeshi citizens' access to international labour market.

Replying to a query, he said there is no scope for missing the deadline as it will put the country and its citizens in trouble.

“The countrymen will not be able to travel abroad unless we meet the deadline,” he said.

On traffic congestion, Salam said the committee asked police personnel to prevent illegal parking and take action against violators of traffic rules to ease tailbacks.

In reply to another question, he said law and order across the country is satisfactory.