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19 June, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Move to issue NID cards to expats

HARUN UR RASHID
Move to issue NID cards to expats

The door to getting National Identity (NID) cards for Bangladeshi expatriates is going to open in July as the Election Commission (EC) will start its feasibility study at that time. NID Registration Wing sources said the feasibility study will begin in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where thousands of Bangladeshi expatriates have been living for a long time without NID cards. Sources said a team comprising five to six officials of the EC has been formed and it will visit these two countries in July to plan how the work would be conducted.

The team members would talk to senior embassy officials of Bangladesh in Riyadh and others for carrying out the activities. The EC is committed to providing NID cards to each national living abroad in phases so that these people do not face any cumbersome situation in Bangladesh and abroad.

The sources said they would at first issue NID cards to expatriates because they suffer in different ways while wanting to buy lands, open bank accounts and get driving licence in Bangladesh. These people cannot open a bank account without NID cards in Bangladesh. Even if they want to send money to Bangladesh through banks, they face trouble without NID cards. Many people are forced to send money through illegal channels, thus depriving the Bangladesh government of revenue.

It has been a long-standing demand to issue NID cards for expatriate nationals of Bangladesh so that they can cast their votes during the parliamentary elections. Sources said that since these people send their hard-earned money to Bangladesh, they have every right to elect their representatives to the national Parliament. NID cards will be issued to them at first, but it is hard to say when expatriates would be able to cast their votes during election time from abroad. This would depend on the decision of the EC, the sources added.

“A team has been formed. It's likely to visit Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for a feasibility study on how the expatriates would get NID cards,” NID Wing director general Brigadier General Mohammad Sidul Islam told The Independent.

“Our task would be to issue NID cards as the expatriates face various problems while purchasing lands and opening bank accounts in Bangladesh. We want to ease their sufferings because they are keeping our economy alive. The EC will decide how they will cast their votes while living abroad. But our task is to give them NID cards as our citizens,” he said.

On April 19, the EC held a mammoth seminar titled "Providing NID and voting rights to expatriate Bangladeshi citizens" at a city hotel, where senior officials of different ministries, including the Prime Minister’s Office, were present.

The chief election commissioner, KM Nurul Huda, was also present, along with leaders of the Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Jatiya Party.

Speakers at the seminar unanimously agreed that Bangladeshi nationals living abroad should be given NID cards as they face problems both at home and abroad in the absence of such documents. However, the speakers could not reach a consensus to find out a general way by which the expatriates would be able to cast their votes from abroad.

The Bangladesh ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Golam Mosi, said: “Bangladeshis living abroad have every right to get the NID card as they are contributing to the national economy. We have experience in providing MRPs to these people. We can apply this experience to give them NID cards. We have efficient manpower. What we need is technical support.”

Following the seminar, the EC has reviewed all recommendations of the speakers and come to the conclusion that the feasibility study would start in July so that they can start the process of registering the expatriates.

Earlier, the EC led by Shamsul Huda had taken the initiative to provide NID cards to expatriates. Two of the commissioners had also visited the United Kingdom to gather experience. But the initiative failed in the face of criticism from different quarters.

Later, the EC led by Kazi Rakib Uddin revived the initiative to bring Bangladeshi expats into the poll ambit. The commission wanted to collect biometric information online, but it did not materalise for various reasons. Now, the KM Nurul Huda-led EC wants to give effect to the initiative of his predecessors with the support of all stakeholders.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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