House committee raises security issue with bidder selectionThe Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday raised a national security concern over the contract to be awarded to Morpho Safran, a French company working in India, for preparing the national identity card.
The Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday raised a national security concern over the contract to be awarded to Morpho Safran, a French company working in India, for preparing the national identity card.
PAC members said that any firm belonging to, or working in India or China, should not be awarded such a sensitive project as preparing the national identity card that contains all vital information on Nepali citizens.
The National Identity Management Centre (NIDMC) has chosen Morpho Safran to print the national IDs, the same firm that had been disqualified earlier for a conflict of interests.
Only Morpho Safran was deemed “technically eligible” to set up infrastructure and print the ID cards. While the selection has to be approved by the funding agency, Asian Development Bank, the fact that only one firm was found to be technically eligible has raised many an eyebrow.
Lawmakers claimed that Morpho’s subsidiary firm is involved in many projects in India including in preparing a similar kind of national identity card (Aadhaar), together with the Home and External Affairs ministries of India.
The PAC has formed a panel to see if there are irregularities in picking only one firm and if it is logical to award the contract to a company working in India, said Ram Hari Khatiwada, the PAC member who leads the team.
The panel has got one month to submit its report. Dev Bhaskar, Bhaskar Bhadra, Doorprasad Upadhya and Satrughan Mahato are its members.
“We will hold discussion with the stakeholders on the matter. We have sensed some irregularities while reviewing technical aspects of the bidders,” he said. According to the tender document, 80 marks is allocated for technical assessment while the rest goes to the firm’s financial proposal. The selected
firm prepares 110,000 national identity cards as a pilot project.
The NIDMC, under the Home Ministry, qualified Morpho Safran technically among five other bidders. A technical team formed under the Centre had recommended Morpho for meeting all the requirements. Gemalto (France), IRIS Corporation (Malaysia), Informatics (Sri Lanka), Dermalog and Arjowiggins (France) are the other bidders.
In the complaints lodged at the PAC and the Anti Corruption and Integrity wing of the ADB in Manila, some prospective bidders claimed that the decision had been influenced by former Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam.
In June, the centre had called a global tender for procurement and installation of hardware at its offices and all project sites. The winning firm has 18 months to procure equipment and customise software to run the system. The ADB has extended an $8 million loan for the project while the rest will be financed by the World Bank.
National id project
Uses of multi-applicable biometric smart card
- Person’s national identity for verification
- Basic identity for other identity, such as passport and driving licence
- Vital registrations like birth, death, marriage, legal cases
- Voter ID card
- For registering land, vehicle and other property
- Financial transactions
- Social security card
- Medical information
- Border and security management