Thu, Jan 29th, 2009 12:12 am BdST
bdnews24.com correspondent

Dhaka, Jan 28 (bdnews24.com) – The Election Commission has requested banks and other institutions not to make national identity cards mandatory for their services, as an estimated 15 million eligible citizens are yet to get their cards, an EC official said on Wednesday.

“The EC has already written to the Cabinet Division, Bangladesh Bank, secretary to the President’s office, all ministries, divisions and relevant organisations not to make the national ID card compulsory for opening bank accounts, getting credit and other services,” EC secretary Humayun Kabir told bdnews24.com.

“The Commission took the decision because ID cards have not reached all and a gazette notification by the government is also still awaited.

“Some 20-30 percent of eligible citizens, or 15 million people, have yet to receive their cards for reasons ranging from failing to register as voters or non-collection of cards issued.”

At least 20 percent of more than 80 million registered voters have not collected their cards, he said.

“Mistakes in the cards already issued are another problem,” he said.

“Moreover, the government hasn’t yet issued a gazette notification making the cards ‘mandatory’,” said Kabir.

The National Identity Authorities Ordinance 2008 requires the government to issue the gazette to make the ID cards compulsory.

Director of the National Identity Card Project, Brig Gen Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury, told bdnews24.com, “The project will start updating the voter list with photos and distributing the national ID cards afresh, if the government asks.”

“Pilot programmes will be undertaken before updating the voter list and national ID card project. The first such pilots will be done in places around Dhaka,” said Kabir.

According to the Voter List Ordinance, updating should be done annually during the month of January.

“But because of the national and Upazila polls, the Election Commission could not do the job within the timeframe this year,” said the EC secretary.

The fresh updating will start after the City Corporation elections in Dhaka and Chittagong and subsequent municipal elections, starting in April, he said.

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That what about the claim that this Godsent voter list prevented 15 million fake voters?