Nepal pauses national ID card verification contract to probe tender process
Nepal’s Cabinet is halting a biometric ID contract and forming a panel to probe the decision by the country’s former Home Minister to issue order that allegedly contravenes the country’s law, according to The Kathmandu Post.
The ‘Citizen Details Verification and Inter-System Affiliation Procedure’ was issued in December, giving seven days notice of a tender competition that included only one company, the report says. That would violate the Public Procurement Act. The one company was Advantage International Pvt Ltd., which is Idemia’s local representative.
The contract was to verify data from biometric national IDs, the issuance of which was announced in 2018 with Idemia as its supplier. The legislation had not been passed yet, though, and by mid-way through 2021, the government was reported to be considering bids on the project from Idemia and Thales, after rejecting the initial contract awarded to Idemia for a lack of a competitive bidding process.
Now, a similarly uncompetitive practice will be probed by a three-member committee lead by the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office. The committee will investigate the release of the Citizen Details Verification and Inter-System Affiliation Procedure-2022 by former Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane just days after taking office.
Rabi Lamichhane is a former television personality who lost his Home Office posting in February, after the Supreme Court stripped him of his position over irregular citizenship status.
The plan is to integrate the driver’s license, vehicle ownership credentials, banking services and tax payments, voter ID, social security and more. Five years after its announcement, the national ID card is required only for passport applications and to write the entrance exam for medical school.