Amid complaints from service seekers that delivery of machine-readable passports (MRPs) has been dreadfully slow, the new budget has put introduction of Online Live Enrollment Centers (OLEC) into priority to help quickly process the MRPs applications.
Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat while unveiling the new budget for the fiscal year 2014/15 on Sunday announced that the OLECs will be introduced to ease the distribution of MRPs in view of the mandatory replacement of all hand-written passports by next year. International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) has set November 24, 2015 deadline to replace all hand-written passports.
Officials at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said preparations are under way to invite global tender for introducing the OLECs after completing necessary preparations. “A study team has been formed in the ministry to make recommendations after necessary homework.
The team will decide when and how to invite the tender,” said MoFA spokesperson Dipak Dhital. The Study Team is led by Joint Secretary Khaga Nath Adhikari, who heads Policy and Planning Division at the ministry.
Once the OLES is introduced in various parts of the country, MRP applications can be directly sent to Department of Passport in Kathmandu for further processing. This will not only help quickly process the MRP applications but also avoid hassles the MRP applicants have to face while visiting Kathmandu to get passport within a week time.
Currently, concerned district administration offices (DAOs) across the country collect MRP applications and bring them to Kathmandu on periodic basis while those seeking MRP immediately with additional fees submit their applications directly at the Department of Passport (DOP). While it takes a week to acquire MRP under the fast track system, it normally takes a minimum of one month to acquire passport for a normal fee from DAOs.
It is estimated that over three million Nepali nationals are residing abroad. “Since we have already issued 2.1 million MRPs after it was introduced on December 26, 2010, we may now have to issue additional 1 million MRPs before the ICAO deadline expires,” said Director General of Department of Passport Ramesh Prasad Khanal.
Khanal, who introduced slew of measures to help speedy processing of the MRP applications at the DoP over the past several months, said the DoP is now well-placed to issue MRPs to the remaining others before the ICAO deadline expires. “We are currently issuing around 150,000 MRPs per month on an average. This allows us to replace all hand-written passports within the ICAO deadline,” he further said.
While Nepalese mission abroad have asked Nepali nationals to replace hand-written passports with MRPs, Department of Foreign Employment has now made it mandatory in Kathmandu to acquire MRPs before flying abroad for employment. The DoP has started receiving large numbers of MRP applications from various labor destination countries such as the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Kuwait.