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6 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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Passport woes underline deeper malaise

Passport woes underline 
deeper malaise

That general service, like the one dealing with the processing and delivery of passports to citizens is mired in murkiness has always been in our subconscious, but the anomaly has come to the fore once more through a recent survey of 350 applications.  The assessment was carried out by Conscious Citizens Committee (CCC), a Barisal-based wing of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).

The statistics make unnerving reading as we find 71.1 percent have to face some sort of harassment in getting the passport while 89.4 per cent end up paying an additional cost, which is simply bribe.  This added amount is provided reportedly to get the desired police report and, often to the broker to bring the entire passport application to receiving process within a tolerable span of time.

Also discovered is the fact that 32.3 per cent deliveries fail to meet the stipulated time, whereas more than fifty percent of applicants resort to middlemen to ease the perceived impediments. Obviously this indicates to an ensconced anomaly that has become a sub-culture of sorts. What is seen in clear language as bribery is euphemistically deemed ‘speed money’ in the whole process, trying brazenly to take out the moral guilt from the existing operation.

Following the survey, CCC submitted a charter suggesting the revocation of the police verification system and uprooting of the brokers.  Now some things are easier said than done because while the verification process is plagued by problems, it’s an essential step especially in an age when all countries in the world live with the constant spectre of radical attacks and extremist-perpetrated anarchy.  

The police verification should not be dispensed with; instead, what the government can do is add a certain amount as police confirmation cost which will be handed to the law enforcers on verification duty against a receipt. This amount will be a legitimate supplementary income for the police in question.  In a society where underhand graft is intimately intertwined within contemporary credo and identified almost innocuously as tips for tea and biscuits, ending the practice altogether is an impractical expectation.

The disturbing finding by TIB in the passport sector is but one side of a mercenary culture which is pervasive in all areas, having society in a stranglehold.  At this point, the approach needs to be smart, realistic and not totally driven by blind ideals.  One other option may be to appoint a private firm for the whole process with a board in place to monitor transparency.

 

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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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