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Nepal invites fresh bids for smart passport

Nepal today reopened the controversial tender to buy new machine-readable passports (MRPs), which was earlier scrapped after Maoists opposed the multi-million dollar contract awarded to an Indian government press.

world Updated: May 17, 2010 20:34 IST

Nepal today reopened the controversial tender to buy new machine-readable passports (MRPs), which was earlier scrapped after Maoists opposed the multi-million dollar contract awarded to an Indian government press.

Bids were invited from international security printing companies within 45 days, which has placed no restrictions on firms from neighbouring countries.

"The tender is open to international security printing companies of all countries," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The advertisements in this regard was published in two government-owned newspapers.

Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai and Chief of Protocol Mohan Krishna Shrestha signed the 100-plus page tender document, according to the Kathmandu Post.

The new passports would come in laminated form, with holographs on 32 pages. Every page would have at least one of the 16 national symbols of the country.

"Security printing, supply and delivery, installation of equipment and preparation of MRPs will be in a single package," the draft of the new tender copy said.

"Estimated at USD 6-7 per copy, the MRP tender is more relaxed in terms of many provisions compare with the earlier pre-qualification," an official said.

The selected bidder should provide about four million smart passports, which would replace the handwritten ones, by November 2015. Among the relaxed norms are qualification criteria and financial health of aspirant bidders.

In April, Maoists had threatened nation-wide general strike to oppose the Nepal government's plan to get the smart passports printed in Indian press.

Succumbing to the Maoists demands, Nepal government had scrapped the contract of printing the smart passports to India Security Press at a rate of $ 4 per copy.