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13 August, 2017 12:39:56 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 August, 2017 10:14:46 AM
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EC to set new deadline

smart NID cards distribution project
Staff Reporter
EC to set new deadline

The Election Commission (EC) has decided to produce smart NID cards after the French company, Oberthur Technologies (OT) and the local firm, Tiger IT have failed to complete nationwide card distribution within the deadline. A squabble between OT and Tiger IT is being blamed for the  current stalemate. The EC, however, has not ensured that 90 million smart NIDs would be distributed within the current deadline, which ends in December 2017.

Under the circumstances, the deadline may be extended to June 2018, according to EC sources. The state-owned Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory, which was earlier entrusted with the task of producing smart NID cards for new voters out of these 90 million, would be asked to distribute the remaining smart NID cards among the citizens.

Citing “unprofessional conduct”, the EC cancelled the smart NID card production and distribution agreement with OT on July 23. On that day, the French company was asked to halt its production and distribution work. Sources in the EC have said that the commission has already started printing smart cards on a limited scale.

The EC’s acting secretary, Helaluddin Ahmed, said: “The contract with the Oberthur will not be renewed. We alone will produce the smart NID cards. Hopefully, the printing and distribution of all cards would be completed by June next year.” Speaking on the termination of the agreement with OT, he said, “The agreement will not be renewed as the company has failed to complete the job within the deadline.”

Explaining its failure, OT sent a letter to the Bangladesh government on July 10, 2017. The letter said: “Unfortunately, we see a rotten situation, orchestrated by the company Tiger IT with the support of some Bangladeshi officials. Tiger IT is seeking to ensure that our company is declared incompetent and penalised, both in terms of its image and in financial terms, so that the credit for completing the programme ultimately goes to Tiger IT itself.” Meanwhile, no one from Tiger IT was available for comment on the matter.

Over 86 per cent of the smart NID cards are still undistributed. Just 12.4 million of 90 million smart NID cards was distributed or made ready for distribution before the December 2017 deadline.

Blaming the French firm OT, the EC’s NID registration division has said OT has slowed down the production and distribution work since the contract was inked two-and-a-half years ago.

Brig. Gen. Saidul Islam, the director-general of the NID Division, however, said: “We’re preparing a team as quickly as we can. Personalisation machines are also working. We’ll try to finish the distribution of the rest of the cards by December. There’s nothing to be worried about.”

The personalisation machine inserts the identification information of citizens in the smart cards. After the personalisation, the cards will be distributed at the upazila level.

The EC and OT signed a deal in 2015 to distribute smart cards among 90 million voters by June 30, 2016. The French firm was supposed to complete the production of the cards within 18 months and send them to the EC.

However, OT failed to deliver the cards within the deadline, which was extended by a year. Yet, even after the extension of deadline, the company could not complete the job. Some 60 million cards have so far been sent from France, according to the EC. Over 25 million blank cards are still to be generated.

However, another consignment of 10 million cards is supposed to arrive soon, said Islam. The EC still has to receive 15 million more cards. Only 12.4 million cards have been personalised so far and still more time is required to add the identification information to the cards, he said.

 

 

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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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