German firm Veridos GmbH has got the job of preparing about two crore e-passports and providing other related services at a cost of around Tk 3,339 crore or €342.1 million.
The cabinet committee on purchase approved a home ministry proposal in this regard yesterday.
An estimated Tk 4,636 crore, including the payment for the German company, would be spent for the project titled “Introduction of e-passport and automatic border control system in Bangladesh”.
The Department of Immigration and Passports will implement the project—approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in June—in between July 2018 and June 2028.
In the first phase, Veridos will bring into Bangladesh 20 lakh e-passports worth Tk 143.63 crore and materials worth Tk 1,638 crore for 1.80 crore e-passports.
The company will get Tk 879 crore for hardware, software and other services, including installation of the machineries for producing e-passports in Bangladesh.
Once the machineries are installed, the Berliin-based company will provide maintenance service for 10 years for Tk 678 crore.
Fifty electronic gates, data and disaster recovery centres and passport printing machines would be set up for the e-passports and to introduce an automated border management system, according to the home ministry proposal.
The e-passports would have two validity periods: five and 10 years. Passport officials said the size of e-passports would remain the same as the current machine readable ones.
However, the two pages with the passport holder's details, which now appear in the beginning, would be replaced by a polymer card embedded with a chip containing the passport holder's personal information.
Such passports, also known as biometric or digital passports, have embedded electronic microprocessor chips which contain biometric information used to authenticate the identity of the holders.
Officials said the e-passport system would increase security and accessibility of Bangladeshi passports worldwide.
Machine readable passports will be gradually replaced by e-passports, a home ministry official said.
Around 120 countries have already introduced e-passports, with the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and Malaysia introducing it almost a decade ago.
The cabinet committee also approved a proposal for importing 50,000 tonnes of wheat through Singapore-based Agrico International Pte Ltd at a cost of $256.38 a tonne.
It also gave go-ahead to a proposal to let Spain-based Tecnica Y Proyectos SA conduct a feasibility study at a cost of Tk 219 crore for an underground subway in Dhaka city.
Besides, the cabinet committee on economic affairs approved the elevation of the Gabtoli-Nabinagar four-lane highway to an expressway under a public-private partnership initiative.
A proposal was also approved for short- and long-term purchase of a total of 250 megawatts of electricity from India's Hyderabad-based Sembcorp Gayatri Power Ltd.
In the short-term from August 2018 to December 31, 2019, the tariff rate would be Tk 4.69 kW/h and in the long-term from January 1, 2020 to July 31, 2033 the rate would be Tk 6.17 kW/h.