In a controversial move, the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) will strike a Tk 267 crore deal today with the British firm De La Rue for procuring 15 million machine readable passport (MRP) booklets and as many laminations without approval of final samples.
It will be a gross violation of tender documents and runs contrary to the report of the technical evaluation committee.
“Before signing the contract, the bidder must submit sample passport booklets and laminations as per the specification and that should be approved by the procurement authority. If the samples of the lowest bidder are not approved, the second lowest bidder can be invited to sign the contract,” says the DIP's proposal to the cabinet committee on government purchase.
The committee last month endorsed the proposal, subject to approval of the final samples. De La Rue was supposed to submit the final samples immediately after the approval came through, but it is yet to comply with the requirement.
The samples of the company, submitted with its bid document in December last year, did not include eight security features out of 36.
The Security Printing Corporation Ltd, Bangladesh Council of Science and Industrial Research and Buet's chemical engineering department tested the samples and found those missing security features.
Once submitted, the final samples of passport booklet and lamination of De La Rue will again be sent to the three labs for tests. “The final samples can get approval only if they include all the 36 security features required,” said a home ministry official.
Contacted, Home Secretary QCK Mustaq Ahmed, who is scheduled to attend the deal signing ceremony at the DIP's Agargaon office as the chief guest, said he would look into the legal side of the deal and take a decision on whether the contract could be signed without approving the final samples.
Despite repeated efforts, The Daily Star could not reach DIP's Director General Abdul Mabud over the phone. Its Deputy Director Nazrul Islam declined to comment on the issue.
Sources in DIP said the decision to sign the contract was hurried after Mabud, Nazrul, home secretary and MRP project director visited the De La Rue factories in the UK and Malta last week.
There had been controversy over the selection process of De La Rue. Complaints were made that the company was favoured by DIP although it had failed to meet some crucial criteria set for bidders.
De La Rue had earlier sparked huge controversy in India over its supplying of substandard banknote paper.