Idemia, HID Global, Aisino, Muehlbauer ID in bidding war over Nepal biometric passport deal
Nepal has been negotiating multi-million dollar contracts with four international companies to implement its biometric passport plan, restarting a process which was paused in February after evidence showed one of the ministers negotiating himself a Rs 700 million (roughly US$9.3 million) fee, The Kathmandu Post reports.
Last year, the government was widely criticized for its national biometric ID card initiative by advocacy groups, privacy experts, and legislators. At the time, it was announced that the cards would be supplied by Idemia and supported by the Asian Development Bank.
On the day of the deadline, only Idemia, Muehlbauer ID Services, HID Global and Aisino Corporation submitted the final documents for two million biometric passports, contrary to government expectations. When the bid was first announced, more than a dozen companies expressed interest in participation. It was soon cancelled and followed by an international bid four months later, however corruption accusations regarding the acquisition of a printing facility stalled the process.
An initial offer mentioned 5 million electronic passports, three million more than the numbers in the new acquisition process. The government was hoping to print the passports locally, yet plans are now clouded by a corruption scandal after a recording resurfaced with Gokul Prasad Baskota, a minister in the Oli Cabinet, negotiating a personal fee with a Swiss company representative. The official resigned.
The Kathmandu Post claims Idemia has given a $26.59 million quote for two million electronic passports. The company is already supplying biometric ID cards to the government. HID Global has asked for $29.27 million, Aisino Corporation for $32.65 million and Muehlbauer ID service for $39.32 million, according to the report. The offers include polycarbonate passport booklets, installation in Nepal and missions abroad, staff training and other supplies.
Evaluation will take place over the next 20 days. The chosen supplier with have to deliver 1.6 million electronic passports 32-pages long and 400,000 with 64 pages for frequent flyers. The passports are in line with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.