Bangladeshi officials have said the country will start issuing national identity cards in March following the signing of a US$102 million contract with French firm Oberthur.Electoral Commission (EC) secretary Sirajul Islam made the announcement at a signing ceremony between Oberthur Technologies and the EC in Dhaka on 15 January.Sirajul said the laser-engraved, polycarbonate-based, high security identification card would prevent forgery and be used for 22 public services. He added that some 90 million voters would get the card by June 2016."Ultimately, the new card will help ensure accountability in taking public and private services and it will establish good governance through enhancing e-governance," the EC secretary said, reported the Dhaka Tribune.Services linked to the card will likely include driving licenses, passport, banking, trade license, marriage registration, health cards, utility services and admission in education institutions."We hope to start issuing the cards on the upcoming Independence Day [March 26]," the secretary said.Oberthur won a bidding process involving four competitors – three of which were French. The firm quoted 6.7 billion Bangladesh taka (US$85 million) crore to produce 70 million smartcards against a requirement of 90 million.To meet the requirement of 90 million smartcards, the tender evaluation committee estimated an additional cost of 1.3 billion for the additional 20 million cards. This brought the total contract to 8 billion Bangladesh taka (US$102 million).In case of lost or damaged cards, a voter will have to pay 200 taka (US$2.50) for a replacement.