The Security Services Division of the home ministry will buy 20 lakh machine readable passports to meet the demand until e-passports are launched in the country.
The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase approved a proposal to buy the passports for Tk53 crore from 'ID Global Solution Limited' (formerly known as De la Rue International Ltd).
The proposal was approved in a meeting presided over by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Thursday.
Earlier, on November 27, the cabinet committee turned down the same proposal saying that the proposed price of the passports was excessive. But on Thursday it approved the same proposal with a similar price to buy passports from the same company.
The purchase committee approved five purchase proposals in total on Thursday, said the finance minister.
The finance minister said, "We cannot meet the demand for passports now. We cannot send a sufficient number of passports to our embassies around the world. The institution appointed for making passports could not supply them in the way we planned."
When asked about the probable date of launching e-passport services, the finance minister said, "The prime minister will launch it very soon. But the home minister has said two to three more months are needed to launch the e-passport." "Initially 500 e-passports will be issued per day. Later it will be increased to 2,000 e-passports per day," he added.
Commenting on initially rejecting the purchase proposal and later approving it, the finance minister said, "We first considered the main project approved by the Ecnec (Executive Committee of the National Economic Council). But later the prices increased, so now we have to take into account the latest increased prices. By mistake, on November 27 we counted the price according to the project approved by Ecnec."
The cabinet committee also approved three purchase proposals related to upgrading the road connecting Ashuganj river port to Akhaura land port to a four-lane national highway. The project, jointly financed by the Bangladesh Government and India's Exim Bank, will cost Tk2,563.66 crore.
Indian firm Rights Ltd and Bangladeshi firm Modern Enterprise Planners have been appointed as consultants for the four lane highway project, which will cost Tk117.65 crore.
The purchase committee also approved a project for developing land and other work to set up an economic zone in Araihazar, Narayanganj. Japan's Towa Corporation will work in developing the economic zone. The project will cost Tk1,081.45 crore.
The finance minister said, "We are setting up 100 economic zones across the country. Building factories haphazardly will be stopped once these areas are developed. Then we will be able to decide which place will be appropriate for building a factory."
A memorandum of understanding to set up the Japanese economic zone on 1,000 acres of land was signed in May 2, 2016.