Usman Manzoor
Tuesday, June 02, 2015
From Print Edition
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ISLAMABAD: An international contract of $84 million of scanning, digitising and delivery of captured data for identity cards of the Government of Sri Lanka is slipping from the hands of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) after the authority has been subjected to unnecessary criticism over voter verification process, well-placed sources in the authority disclosed.

The sources said that Nadra’s credibility had been badly damaged after the political parties started criticising it and Nadra has started getting vibes from the Sri Lankan government that they might not award Nadra the contract for issuance of fresh ID cards to Sri Lankan citizens.

The sources said that Nadra had won the multi-million dollar international contract in 2013 and had completed the first phase and it was most likely that it would win the second phase of the project too, which is worth $84 million but the political parties started criticising Nadra for a crime it never committed and because of it, the Sri Lankan government might give a second thought to its decision. “Nadra has started getting the vibes from Sri Lanka and things are not in its favour,” the sources added.

In 2013, Nadra by successfully executing identification-related projects in a number of developing countries, including Sudan, Nigeria and Kenya broke the international monopoly once enjoyed by the western companies. Nadra had won the first phase of the Sri Lankan government’s identity cards project, through open bidding.

The international driver’s licence system of Bangladesh was also delivered on BOT (build, operate and transfer) basis, and the authority assisted the UNHCR in the registration of Afghan nationals residing in Pakistan as well.

Sri Lanka floated international tenders for its computerised identity cards project back in 2007. Nadra’s bid was one of the most technically competent — almost half the price of the competitors. However, the tender was scrapped at that time. In 2013, the Sri Lankan government invited bids once again and Nadra was declared the successful bidder for the first phase.

Consequently, it carried out the first of the three-phase project, which amounted to 715 million in Sri Lankan rupees and was focused on the digitisation of legacy data of over 9 million forms.

In the second phase, Nadra would issue fresh ID cards to Sri Lankan citizens. Of late, Nadra also objected to interference of political parties in its internal affairs at a crucial time when the authority is busy in the process of voter verification in disputed constituencies and being presented as witness before the judicial commission.

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