Feb 08, 2018

Rejection of Govt. printer’s bid for e-passport creates doubts

Sri Lanka’s new bio-metric E-passport project’s status quo will come in to focus once again when the fundamental rights case challenging the decision to award the e-Passport Project to the British controlled Company De-La Rue Lanka will be taken up for support before the Supreme Court tomorrow (09).

This project is now under litigation owing to the attempt made by the authorities to award the contract to De La Rue Lanka Currency and Security Print Ltd. (De La Rue Lanka Ltd) through a non-transparent and unsolicited single-source procurement process.

Petitioner, EPIC Lanka (Pvt) Ltd had challenged the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers to award the Rs. 1.2 billion worth e-passport project to De-La Rue Lanka Ltd as a direct contract on the basis that the government has a 40 per cent stake, despite EPIC offering a similar solution for little over Rs. 180 million.

Epic alleged that De La Rue Lanka cannot be considered a Government entity that entitles for preferential treatment.

The rejection of Government Printer’s bid for E-passport facility at a cost of Rs.650 million in July, 2017 making way for De La Rue Lanka Lid’s Rs.1.2 billion proposal without competitive bidding has come to the lime light with the legal tussle over the awarding of the tender without competitive bidding.

The proposal of the Government Printer to supply E-Passports at the cost of Rs. 650 million was turned down by the Ministry Internal Affairs on the grounds that they will call competitive bids under the Swiss Challenge Process.

This decision was taken despite the Government Printer is a 100 percent Government owned entity and it is the de-facto entity for security printing for the Government.

The Secretary to the Internal Affairs Ministry in his letter stated that he is unable to consider his request because the Cabinet has already taken a decision to call competitive proposals for the E- Passport under Swiss Challenge method.

Therefore, the Secretary advised the Government Printer to submit its proposal for evaluation as and when the open proposals are called under the Swiss Challenge Process.

The Cabinet has approved a proposal submitted by the Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando to award the contract to supply an end to end E-Passport Solution through an unsolicited bid to De La Rue Lanka Ltd in an unsolicited bid.

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