Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 21, 2023 News
– Calls on President Ali to terminate contract with German company
Kaieteur News – As questions continue to linger over the Government of Guyana (GoG) decision to sole-source a German-based company to produce an integrated electronic national identification system and cards that will be costing taxpayers US$34 million, former Ambassador Dr. Shamir Ally has called on President Irfaan Ali to terminate the contract.
Dr. Ally, a former Guyana Ambassador to Kuwait and former FIRST Alternate Governor, Islamic Development Bank, disclosed that he quoted for 1 million polycarbonate chip cards in the industry and the price tag is between US$12 million to US$17 million, which is half the price the Government signed a contract for with Veridos Identity Solutions. Kaieteur News had reported that the deal was facilitated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
Dr. Ally suggested alternate firms like French company Thales, and IDEMIA, a multinational technology company headquartered in Courbevoie, France, that provides identity-related security services and sells facial recognition and other biometric identification products and software to private companies and governments. Importantly, the former Ambassador highlighted that Thales provided the technology software and chips (for card) and printed blank polycarbonate cards for the UAE, but through a UAE company.
According to the quote Dr Ally received, for half the price Guyana is paying, the country can receive 1 million polycarbonate chip cards comes with 10 to15 locations to enroll and generate cards, one large central location in Georgetown to enroll and generate cards (10 clerk stations), system software to generate biometric feature ID cards, setup and training, monthly fees for software maintenance and annual fees for third party software licenses, partner General Dynamics Information Technology. It also includes other features like kinnegram guilloche and micro-text print hologram; digital signature pads x 30.10-15 IXLA or matica brand single station laser printers and chip encoders; 1-2 large units IXLA or matica brand central station bulk laser / chip encoder printers; 30 document scanners; 30 cameras; PC and monitors x 30; card testing units x 30; Servers and software; Database software (oracle IBM Microsoft etc.) and card readers x 500.
Dr Ally noted that the quote is for new cards with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) features suggesting Thales and IDEMIA as alternate contractors for Guyana.
Moreover, he questioned, “What about Competitive Bids? Why the silence from the Public Procurement Commission? Is this a violation of the Procurement Law?”
He continued, “With all due respect for democracy in practice with accountability, transparency, and fairness, HE President Dr. Ali’s administration, should cancel this contract and go through the established procurement regulations.” Dr Ally added that Guyana should have requested bids or quotes from General Dynamics, Thales or IDEMIA. Last week, the Ministry of Finance issued a statement defending sole-sourcing Veridos, claiming that the contract was awarded in accordance to the Laws of Guyana and added that the company that was selected is “an internationally reputable group.”
The contract for the Single Electronic Identification System and cards that will be issued to Guyanese was signed on March 10, 2023, at State House located in Georgetown. On the heels of the contract being awarded, Former Auditor General and Stabroek News Columnist, Anand Goolsaran, in his column stated that while sole-sourcing is catered for under national emergencies and national security, the awarding of the contract facilitated by the UAE’s Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, does not qualify. In fact, he contended that while the sole-sourcing section of the Act was used, the justification is flawed because the project cannot be classified as being one of national security.
Also, the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), in a statement said that the signing of the agreement to operationalise e-governance in Guyana, without the framework legislation covering Data Protection being in place, is reckless in the extreme. The body said that given the haste, absence of public consultation and threats to the integrity of personal information, not to mention the seeming illegality of sole-sourcing the project, it is calling for the project to be paused and submitted to Parliament.
In its statement issued last Wednesday, the Finance Ministry claimed that, “Contrary to the false assertion made by the GHRA, the contract in question was awarded in full conformity with the Laws of Guyana including the procurement laws.” The ministry continued, “Additionally, the company who will be developing the solution for Guyana is a highly regarded supplier of items of this nature internationally, and its shareholding comprises two major entities operating in the secure printing industry worldwide, Giesecke & Devrient and Bundesdruckerei GmbH, both of whom have unchallengeable longstanding reputations globally.”
According to the statement, the Government maintains that the contract with Veridos was lawfully executed, adding that the project is intended to deliver a product that will transform citizen experience in Guyana with the introduction of the integrated electronic national identification card. It was stated that once introduced, the card will enable citizens to interact with all government agencies and many private sector entities using this single unique and secure identifier, and will vastly improve the efficiency of service delivery to citizens.
At the signing ceremony President Ali said that the Single Electronic Identification System being developed for Guyana will not only enhance the ease of transactions but will be one of the most technologically advanced. He said that too that the cards will be compliant with 18013-5 of the ISO Standard and will be accepted by the ICAO for international travel.
President Ali said that the card’s capabilities are also in keeping with his Government’s commitment to promote eGovernance to improve the productivity of businesses and the delivery of Government services through the introduction of eHealth, eEducation, eSecurity, eAgriculture, electronic permit, and license processing among other areas.
He noted that the enhancement is necessary because there is an immediate need to implement a robust national identity management system that focuses on the integration of identification services across government agencies, security, ease of use, and acquisition of IDs.
According to him, “The system allows the capture of individuals’ biographical and biometric information based on international standards and stores it to provide identity-based services to individuals and other Government offices. The ID and resident cards are laser engraved, black and white technology with secure, pre-printed designs and devices for a state-of-the-art polycarbonate document, which includes a chip that can integrate a variety of services to the individual.”
The President said the system and software will be tailored for Guyana and will include implementation services, training of administrators and operators, local help desk support and 60 months of support and maintenance. The project is expected to have a 12-month implementation period.
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