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17 October, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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MRP booklet crisis worries expats

Deepak Acharjee, Dhaka
MRP booklet crisis worries expats

The passport booklet crisis has affected people in the country and expatriate Bangladeshis abroad with the latter fearing that they will be sent home back due to non-renewal of work permits. Chief of Bangladesh missions abroad are requesting the ministries concerned to take steps to re-issue machine readable passports (MRPs) to expatriate Bangladeshis as soon as possible, sources in the home affairs ministry said.

But it is difficult to re-issue MRPs to passport-seekers, especially the expatriate Bangladeshis, by the Department of Immigration of Passport (DIP) in time due to shortage of passport booklets, the sources added. According to the sources, officials of DIP's regional offices are discouraging applicants to submit application for passports and that most of the offices are not receiving passport applications.

In a letter, sent to the secretaries of the Security Services Division of the home ministry, the foreign affairs ministry and the Director General (DG) of DIP, a request has been made that steps be taken to supply MRPs of the expatriate Bangladeshis as soon as possible. Md Mostafizur Rahman, high commissioner of the Bangladesh mission in Singapore, says in the letter that they could not deliver MRPs to the expatriate Bangladeshis in Singapore from the first week of September as they had not received MRPs from DIP till date.

“As MRPs are not being re-issued in time, the expatriate Bangladeshis in the country have not been able to renew their work permits,” the letter added. “It is impossible to stay in Singapore for any expatriate Bangladeshi if he/she has no permit and valid passport. And that’s why, the expatriate Bangladeshis who have no work permit will be sent back to the home country,” the letter warned.

In the letter, the Bangladesh high commissioner said there are over one lakh expatriate Bangladeshis working in different trades who have been sending a huge amount of foreign currency to the country every year. So, the authorities should take steps to re-issue MRPs for the expatriate Bangladeshis and send these to the mission on an emergency basis.

DIP Director General Maj. Gen. Shakil Ahmed told The Independent that they are trying to meet the crisis of MRP booklets as soon as possible. “A shipment of 20 lakh MRP booklets is on the way and would reach here soon to meet the emergency demand,” he said.

When visiting the DIP headquarters, many passport-seekers expressed their frustration for not getting any information about their new passports. Sources said there are 300,000 MRP booklets in the DIP’s warehouse against the daily demand of 20,000.

Not only in Singapore, expatriates of Bangladeshis in different countries abroad are also facing to renew work permits due to not getting MRPs in time.

At least 50 lakh Bangladeshi expatriates, out of a total of one crore, working in different countries are passing their days in worry as to whether they would get their MRPs within this month. If the authorities do not reissue MRPs by this month, many Bangladeshi workers and professionals residing in different countries, particularly in the Middle East, may be forced to return home.

The previous DG of DIP had said that they would introduce e-passports from July on a limited scale, but they failed as the infrastructure and setting up of machines for the e-passport project was not complete.

According to the sources in DIP, the authorities are yet to complete the integration and migration of the data system for issuing the e-passports instead of existing machine readable passport (MRP). Not only that, they are yet to complete the setting up of two server rooms—one is Dhaka and another in Jashore—to store the required data of the passport holders.

The authorities are yet to integrate the banking system with five private banks to collect fees for the e-passports from the applicants online.

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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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