Kathmandu, April 13

The Office of the Auditor General has criticised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for failing to set a clear work plan and deadline for personalising some seven million machine-readable passports.

In July last year, the MoFA had extended its deal with Oberthur Technologies, a French security firm, for supply of additional 2.5 million MPRs and installation 50 Live Enrollment Centers to receive MRP applications.

Following the new deal, Oberthur Technologies agreed to supply and personalise around 7 million MPRs, but MoFA failed to set a clear deadline, the OAG said in its 53rd annual report. The OAG report was submitted to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and unveiled on Monday.

“No clear deadline has been set in the agreement for personalising seven million MPRs,” the report read.

It is learnt that the MoFA and Oberthur Technologies have agreed to finish these tasks within the next two years. However, given the pace of works so far, they are unlikely to accomplish the tasks within the stipulated time.

Some 4 million passports have been personalised so far since Nepal adopted MRP in December 2010.

The MoFA had also sealed a deal with Oberthur Technologies to acquire 2.5 million additional passports at a higher per unit cost of $4.89. Earlier, the French firm had supplied and personalised 4 million MPRs at per unit cost of US$ 3.59.

The OAG report has stated that the fresh deal cost tax-payers over US$ 3.892 million (approx 400 million rupees).

It also criticised the MoFA and the Department of Passport’s failure to timely initiate bidding process for procuring and personalising additional MRPs.

Citing deadline pressure and inadequate time for a fresh bidding, the MoFA had chosen to renew existing contract with the French company, but at a higher cost. “It was inappropriate of the ministry not to timely initiate the bidding process,” it added.

Meanwhile, the government has collected a whopping Rs 4.48 billion as fee from passport applicants, according to OAG report.