Nepal’s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal appearing before the Special Hearing of the Public Account Committee (PAC) on Monday declared that the government had awarded the printing rights of Machine Readable Passports (MRP) to India due to the excessive political and diplomatic pressure.
“Under pressing circumstances, government had decided to award the printing rights to India because that the MRP should have been issued by April 1, 2010”, he stated.
It was earlier reported by the Nagarik Daily, February 24, 2010 that Foreign Minister Sujata Koriala had forwarded the proposal to purchase some 40 Lakh (Four million) Machine Readable Passports (MRP) from Indian company summarily ignoring the Global bidding process. She was excessively pressurized by the Indian Government to make the decision, the report had also revealed.
“At the last minute when we were in sheer trouble, we found friend in the Indian establishment and thus we decided to award the printing rights to India”, the Prime Minister replied to queries posed by the PAC members.
“Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna (during his last trip here) and Ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood had been requesting Nepal to purchase the MRPs from India”, The Nagarik vernacular daily dated February 24, 2010 had reported.
“We could not take any decision against India because of the political pressure and our sound diplomatic relations with India that exists”, the Prime Minister told the PAC.
“The government was being pressurized by various political parties to quickly take a decision”, he also said.
“We had to cancel the global tender due to some reason”, the PM said but did not reveal as to what were the reasons to cancel it?
“The Indian ambassador in a formal letter sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated December 4, 2009, while referring to Nepal-India close ties and expressing security concerns due to the open border had expressed India’s “inner” intent to support Nepal in arranging the MRPs on time”, writes Nagarik adding, “In the letter, the ambassador also assured that the MRPs would be made available to Nepal at a cheaper price.”
However, Nagarik wrote further that the price quoted by Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India, company owned by the Indian Government, is much higher than those quoted by the French and Indonesian companies.
PM Nepal was also of the opinion that since a company owned by Indian government is going to print the MRPs, vital information would not be leaked.
On March 23, 2010, Nepal and India formally exchanged confirmation letters regarding the MRP deal and it is expected that India will supply MRPs within 10 weeks.
The Global Civil Aviation authority, ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) had officially informed the government that it cannot extend the April 1, 2010 deadline for introducing the high-tech machine readable passports (MRP).
On the other hand, the members of PAC expressed deep dissatisfaction over the subdued response of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.
Prakash Chandra Lohani, leader of Rastriya Shakti Janshakti Party and a member of the committee was of the opinion that the government had ridiculed Public Procurement Policies and the decision to award printing rights to India has not been transparent.
He also said that the government’s decision to cancel the global tender was fraudulent and mysterious. He also alleged the prime minister for lying before the committee.
Deep Kumar Upadhyaya of the Nepali Congress Party said that it was due to the unlawful act of the ministry of foreign affairs the country stands insulted and humiliated. How the prime minister can claim that there was political and diplomatic pressure to take the decision in India’s favor when we are not getting the MRPs for free, Upadhyaya questioned.
Sujata-India nexus this…
This also speaks as to how much pressure at times the Indian establishment exerts on Nepal.
But yet, Sujata by awarding this MRP contract to the Indian regime has proved that the family of the Koiralas' will ever remain subservient to the Indian Union.
Her fresh proximity with India may elevate her ranks in the Nepali Congress party, let's presume it to be so for the time being.
Old familial habits die hard.
MP, BP and later GP all served the Indian Union to the best of their abilities (and in the process cheated their own country men at different intervals of time) when they were alive and kicking and now SUJI-Jost is in queue to provide an extension to the "Koirala tradition".
By extension, it does mean that the incumbent Mr. Nepal's government will have some more days in office thanks the MRP deal.
The favor "shamelessly" awarded to the Indian company is a slap on the face of those Nepalese who claim to be nationalists as Chakra Prasad Bastola recently claimed.