Techno Brain has asked government to complete its passport contract which Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda terminated, saying the deal will benefit both the citizens and the economy.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the company argues that the contract was a product of a competitive bidding process that followed procurement regulations.

Reads the statement in part: “We maintain that the completion of this contract would be a win-win for the country delivering both direct and indirect benefits for citizens and the Malawian economy.

Techno Brain was producing the new e-passport

“ For example , t h e implementation of the system is expected to deliver substantial efficiency gains, both for the government of Malawi and for the citizens who will no longer have to travel to Lilongwe or Blantyre to apply for a passport, as well as critical security benefits including the reduction of incidents of forgery and identity theft.”

Last month, Chakaka Nyirenda terminated the $60 million (about K47.4 billion) contract between Techno Brain and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services on the basis that the contract was riddled with irregularities.

The contract, signed in March 2019 by the former Democratic Progressive Party administration, required Techno Brain Global FZE of United Arab Emirates (UAE) to upgrade the country’s passport issuance system.

The deal also involved the introduction of an electronic passport under the Build, Operate and Transfer (BoT) model by providing 800 000 electronic passports under procurement reference number IM/01/272/07.

Details have emerged that for every passport booklet issued, Malawians get a raw deal as the government makes a profit of between K30 000 and K117 000, largely due to overpricing.

Documentation shows that the supplier of passport booklets from Vienna, Austria, pegged the average unit cost of each booklet at $9.13 (K7 221.83) and from Singapore, the cost is around $1.73 (K1 368.43).

The supplier, then sells each booklet to the government at $76 (K60 166), including supply of 1 600 units of ink ribbons and 1 600 crystagrams—a series of holographic images—required for the printing of e-passport booklets.

Rough calculations show that Techno Brain makes a profit of between $66.87 (K52 894.17) and $74.27 (K58 708.02) per passport

 booklet supplied to the Malawi Government. Markups in the price include costs of freight.

The e-passport fee structure issued by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services shows that an ordinary passport of 36 pages obtained under normal service costs K90 000 while the 48-page one is at K130 000.

Express service for the 36-page booklet is at K160 000 and K180 000 for the 48-page booklet while replacement for a lost or damaged booklet fetches K150 000 and K170 000, respectively.

In 2020, World Bank barred Techno Brain and requested Malawi to cancel the contract with it, accusing the company of alleged collusion and fraudulent practices it used to influence the awarding of the contract.

Few days after cancellation of the contract, the AG said the new passport deal will favour Malawian firms and where a foreign agency is picked, they will have to partner with a local firm

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