Digital systems can lessen the hassle of attesting certificates

The secretary committee of the Ministry of Public Administration seven years ago had recommended that there be no requirement to attest certificates when applying for government service. The concerned authorities have failed to explain why this has not been implemented as yet.

According to a Prothom Alo report on 11 June, the secretary committee said in its 2015 recommendation that attestation was not required in the government job application. Apart from this, it was also felt that the obligation of attesting necessary documents including certificates for various tasks including admission, taking loans, opening bank accounts and so others, be gradually abolished.

That plan has remained in the pipeline. There has been no visible move to implement the plan. Attestation was required when all government activities were performed manually. It would require submitting attested copy of education or other certificate in case of applying for a job. But while we are constantly hearing about the transition to digital Bangladesh from government policy makers, it becomes redundant.

It is argued in favour of attestation that many people apply showing fake certificates. Such allegations cannot be said to be completely untrue. But in many cases certificates and documents are attested with a fake seal in exchange for money and then then the obligation of attestation turns out to be nothing but mere formality.

Digital Bangladesh means taking initiative to perform all levels of government and non-government work digitally. All kinds of information of all the citizens of the country will be in the national identity card. Citizens are being given e-passports using this method. If any citizen gives wrong information, it will be caught in the database.

From birth certificate to education certificate — everything has to be brought under digital system. Initiatives should be taken to include all the necessary information in the identity card of the citizen. In that case no citizen will have to suffer for the certificate or its attested copy at any stage. There is a fear of losing, or stealing paper certificates. It will not happen on digital platform.

The attestation system was introduced as there were questions about the validity of the original certificate of the citizen. But it turns out that there is no way to determine the authenticity of the attested copy. Since any certificate can be attested for a small fee in Nilkhet market, many people no longer get proper attestation. The government can keep all the information of every citizen in the database if it wants and the information given in the application form can be easily checked and verified by the authorities.

State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain said last year that the verification process would be handed over in the government job application. Many days have passed since then. If a plan promised by a minister remains implemented, then who the citizens would trust? We hope that the Ministry of Public Administration will implement the recommendations of the secretary committee soon. If the government excludes the system of attesting certificates, private companies can be asked to follow that. Not only for education sector, such precaution needed in every sector. Digital Bangladesh will not be achieved through empty words; it has to be gained through action.