Printer selection process raises eyebrows

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Previously disqualified bidder Morpho Safran’scontract win courtscontroversy

Nov 5, 2015-The National Identity Management Center (NIDMC) has selected Morpho Safran to print national ID cards, the same firm which had been disqualified earlier for conflict of interest. The first bidding process was cancelled after the consultant who drafted the tender document and orginial terms of reference was found to have ties with the winning firm.

Even in this round of procurement process, only Morpho Safran was deemed “technically eligible” to set up infrastructure and print national ID cards. While the selection will have to be approved by the funding agency Asian Development Bank (ADB), the fact that only one firm was found to be technically eligible has raised many an eyebrow.

“My conclusion is that there is ulterior motive behind this project and some politicians and bureaucrats are trying to capture it,” said former chief secretary Leela Mani Poudyal, who has kept a close tab on the project.

Besides Morpho, the center under the Home Ministry had in July received proposals from Gemalto of (France), IRIS Corporation (Malaysia), Informatics (Sri Lanka), Dermalog and Arjowiggins of France.

“We have forwarded our findings and recommendation to the ADB. We have not received further approval from them,” said Dinesh Bhattarai, the center’s executive director. Some of the firms, which were disqualified on technical grounds, have lodged complaints at Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature-Parliament and the Office of the Anti Corruption and Integrity, ADB, Manila. They claim that the decision to award the contract to Morpho had been influenced by former Home Minister Bamdev Gautam.ADB Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama said the evaluation process was underway.

In June, the center had called a global tender for procurement and installation of hardware equipment at its offices and all project sites. The winning bidder has 18 months to procure equipment and customise software to run the system. The winner has to issue 110,000 smart cards as a pilot project. The ADB has extended a loan of $8 million for the project, and the rest will be financed by the World Bank.

Published: 05-11-2015 08:34

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