For the last two years, Nadra had been working hard to introduce stat-of–the-art facilities for its consumers. I would like to discuss one of its public related facilities in the country, called e-Sahulat Centers.
Before I go to e-Sahulat thing, let me mention here that Nadra is the largest IT based organization in our country exporting its product to various developing countries like Bangladesh and Sudan for past 3 years. Nadra has earned our country over 500 million dollar foreign exchange through its services and software export, over the years. It has been instrumental for good governance through its IT enabled products, for instance CNIC, E-passport, e-border control system and others.
Cellular companies, banks and security organizations of Pakistan are heavily relying on the Nadra for the data it has of countrymen.
We have been listening so much about Nadra’s e-Sahulat in the country but it is still far away from its so called existence in the country. When last year it was inaugurated by the Federal Minster for Interior Mr. Rehman Malik, it was expected that these centers will expand swiftly and people will be eager to have these centers around them, but unfortunately this hasn’t happened so far.
In its effort to keep the project alive, Nadra has now collaborated with other leading companies like Intel Pakistan and PTA to promote its e-Sahulat Centers. These franchises will offer services like utility bill payment, CNIC verification, easy load or balance transfer for the mobile and phone companies, printing, scanning and photocopy services at very easy access and low charges.
According to internal sources of Nadra, the authority has opened over 20,000 e-Sahulat centers in the country and now more than 1500 such franchises are being opened in the populated areas of the country.
Anyone who has got matriculation certificate and if he can operate a computer and have a space/shop, can apply for the franchise license with payment of the fee (which is Rs. 33,000).
This is this opportunity for the people who have good sense of business and self-employment. This is basically an extension of Nadra’s e-Sahulat Centers, where people will be allowed to not only transact utility bills, but they can also offer other services, such as printing, scanning, fax and telephony services.
Registration fee of Rs. 33,000 includes cost for computer, broadband, scanner, printer and a Fax Machine. Anyone can apply for e-Sahulat center under this programme through applying at NADRA offices.
As in the past, there were some cases of fraud in the name of e-Sahulat in the country therefore; Nadra has asked all the consumers to be careful while paying for their utility bills. Everyone should check the license issued by Nadra and don’t forget to receive the electronic receipt of the payment. Customers are also advised to call the Nadra Helpline# 051-111-786-100 for any query.
Regardless of its expansion and possibilities of its success, I would like it say that these centers are not offering things which attract customers, rather these centers are offering things which attract the franchisees.
- Paying Utility Bills is not a very hard task now days. People pay them at the post offices and banks without any complaint – where as the e-Sahulat has seen proven fraudulent activities and that is why people are asked to check before paying any thing at these centers.
- We already know that some banks are offering to pay utility bills through SMS and even through credit cards. Then why one will choose to have such facility, while he is not 100% sure for them.
- Easy load is now available at every shop then why pay to have this facility. So this is nothing special for the general public. You can go anywhere in the country and get easy load or scratch cards by paying the amount.
- CNIC verification: Does it make sense to ask for a computerized identity card to be verified from e-sahulat centers – when it can be verified through a single SMS.
- Nadra is asking us to be alert from any fake e-Sahulat center in the country.
It looks like that the policy makers at Nadra mis-judged the market demands and they took a quick jazbati decision, and are now are trying to implement it any way. In fact one should think of dropping this programme, and spending the same money for creating job opportunities in a better and productive manner.