The Election Commission (EC) has cancelled an agreement with French company ‘Oberthur Technologies’ and started printing smart national identity (NID) cards on its own.
The EC’s Acting Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed confirmed this while talking to reporters at the commission secretariat in Agargoan, Dhaka on Sunday.
He said the contract between the EC and the French company to print smart NID cards came to an end on June 30, and it was not renewed.
“We have not engaged any other company in this regard since we started printing smart NID cards using our 10 machines and own manpower,” he added.
According to him, the EC was going to procure iris scanners and biometric machines to help print and distribute the smart cards soon.
“It has been decided that one iris scanner and one biometric machine will be procured for each upazila,” he said, adding, the EC had 7.5 million blank smart cards in stock, which will gradually be printed.
When asked if any action will be taken against the companies which failed to complete the work as per the agreement with the EC, he said: “We will discuss the matter with our lawyers and then decide the next course of action.”
In 2011, the EC started the smart NID project called Identification System for Enhancing Excess with the financial help of the World Bank.
On 14 January, 2015, EC made an agreement with Oberthur Technologies to create 9 crore smart card within 18 months.
But the French company failed to do so within the deadline. According to the agreement, the EC had to distribute smart cards within June 2016 among the people.
However, the time of the project was extended to 18 months up to December 2017, on the condition of not increasing the agreed expenditure.
Draft of constituency re-demarcation ready
Meanwhile, the EC in its meeting on Sunday proposed a new law to re-demarcate all parliamentary constituencies with equal numbers of voters.
In this regard, a draft setting boundaries of the constituencies anew for the general elections has been drawn up. This was placed in the meeting.
But the meeting did not fix any rules for the act, Helaluddin said, adding, the new parliamentary seats are being re-demarcated mainly based on population, number of voters and administrative structure.
He said the draft will be sent to the Law Ministry after final approvals by all election commissioners and a law expert in a week.
When asked whether the opinion of political parties will be ignored, Helaluddin said: “We are primarily sending this [draft act] to the Law Ministry, which will be finalised after holding a series of dialogues with all political parties.”
The secretary said the EC was considering reducing the number of constituencies in urban areas, while it planned to increase the number of parliamentary seats in the rural areas.