No two ways

The ministry of foreign affairs has awarded Thai company Chanwanich Security Printing the contract to print 0.6 million new passports despite the fact that Chanwanich had failed to meet a specification set by the ministry when it delivered 0.5 million passports last year. The MoFA’s General Specifications of Nepali Ordinary Passports, 2006, had categorically stated: “the paper shall feature an overall security watermark with micro-lettering...”. Amazingly, this provision was amended after Chanwanich failed to meet this requirement.

Cost effectiveness has been cited as the main reason for the contract going to Chanwanich. But a few extra bucks is a small price to pay for the sake of national security. The news of government officials and local agents of multinational companies working hand in glove to water down contract requirements is a daily fare in Nepali media. This time, national security of the country is imperilled thanks to these unscrupulous agents. At a time when international travel is strictly monitored and every conceivable measure is being adopted to make travelling safe, those holding passports that do not meet international norms are sure to face quite a few hassles during foreign trips. And what will happen to the credibility of Nepal if rogue elements travelling with fake passports commit mischief in foreign lands? There is no two ways about it. A company that has failed to fulfil its obligations in the past cannot be entrusted with such a sensitive task. The government should call for fresh bids and this time ensure that only the company with a good track record and capable of meeting international standards is awarded the contract.