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Nepalese Parl to grill Foreign Secretary on passport deal

world Updated: Jul 12, 2010 13:30 IST

Nepalese parliament will question Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai and Chief of Protocol Muktinath Bhatta on the issue of awarding contract of printing and supplying four million machine readable passports to a French company.

The government has decided to award the contract of supplying four million passports to French firm Oberthur Technologies, which was picked up from among the four international bidders through a tender last week.

According to parliament's Public Accounts Committee chairman Ramkrishna Yadav, the decision to call the top officials for questioning about the ministry's move was taken after lawmakers demanded investigation into the issue.

The French firm quoted lowest price of $3.59 per passport, but the lawmakers belonging to Nepali Congress, Sadbhavana Party and Madhesi People's Rights Forum objected to the government's decision saying the company was not reliable and it would supply low quality passports.

The French company which had earlier got the tender to supply paper notes to Nepal Rastra Bank had failed to fulfill its obligation on time, according to media reports.

The lawmakers have pointed out flaws in security provisions and quality of paper of the MRPs to be supplied by the French company during an interaction programme recently.

Earlier, the government had cancelled the contract signed with India's Security Minting and Printing Corporation to supply the passports after Maoists opposed the move.

The Indian security press was supposed to supply the MRPs at the cost of $4 per piece.