MRPs for all by Sept ‘unlikely’
KATHMANDU, APR 04 – Hundreds of thousands Nepalis working and living abroad may be deprived of Machine Readable Passports (MRP) within September, a deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, Foreign Affairs Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said.
In a meeting of the Parliamentary International Relations and Labour Committee on Friday, Pandey said the MRP distribution process has been affected due to a lack of adequate manpower in Nepali missions abroad and lack of information regarding the deadline among service seekers.
The parliamentary committee had summoned Pandey to inquire him about the government’s arrangements for delivering MRPs within the deadline. During the meeting, lawmakers urged Pandey to ensure that all hand-written passports are replaced.
There are several complaints from within and outside the country that several service seekers are not able to receive MRPs due to the sluggish distribution process.
According to a rough estimate, around 4 million Nepalis are living or working abroad and that around 1 million may be deprived of MRPs within the deadline if Nepali missions are not equipped with adequate manpower and information about the deadline is disseminated effectively. Officials said over 1.3 million Nepalis, including half a million living abroad, have replaced their hand-written passports with MRPs .
During the meeting, Pandey told the lawmakers that the ministry has initiated a process to invite biddings from printers as the contract with the current firm responsible for printing MPRs is going to expire in September. Likewise, Acting Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi said the quality of the passports will also be improved in the new contract process as the country needs to upgrade to e-passport or biometric passport systems in future.
The lawmakers also asked the government to form a panel of officials from concerned ministries, including Foreign Affairs, Finance, Home Affairs and Labour, to expedite the passport distribution process and manage required budget and infrastructure.