The Fiji Labour Party is extremely concerned that the Fiji Elections Office has procured the services of Pakistan’s NADRA to develop its Election Management System. The company’s credibility is in serious question. Pakistan’s ISI has named some of its top officials of involvement in issuing fake IDs to terrorists.
Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem says that NADRA beat five other companies that had applied for the tender because “NADRA Technologies Limited offered the most competitive pricing.” (FT 20/6)
“Surely the most important criteria here should be the security of our data and not necessarily the most competitive offer,” said Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
“We are definitely disturbed that a company with a serious question mark over its credibility has been contracted by the Elections Office to handle sensitive electoral data,” he said.
There are reports of NADRA officials being arrested and charged by Pakistani authorities for accepting bribes to issue fake IDs and passports. A report by Pakistan’s ISI in 2015 found NADRA officials including some of its top brass involved in helping terrorists get Pakistani IDs.
Mr Saneem brushed aside this critical disclosure by Pakistan’s top intel authority ISI as a “matter that had been poorly researched and blown out of proportion by some”.
FLP is extremely worried that our secured data would be in the hands of such a company.
How can Fiji entrust its election management system to a company with this kind of dubious reputation? The credibility of our election is at stake here.
Secondly our concern should also be the privacy of secured personal information in the hands of a company with such a questionable reputation.”
• NADRA did not meet all the requirements for the tender as advertised by the Elections Office. The advertisement had required overseas companies to have a local partner at the time of bidding for the tender. NADRA did not have a local partner at the time of bidding. Its tender should have been rejected at the outset. The partnership with GEM (Fiji) Ltd was formed after it won the tender, we are told.
• NADRA has no expertise with elections management system. Its expertise is with national identification cards (IDs) and passports. How did it get the contract when it has no expertise or proven record on EMS?
• There has been a questionable lack of transparency in the handling of the contract for EMS by the Elections Office. Why did it not disclose publicly that NADRA had won the tender at the time the decision was made a year ago? People in Fiji only came to know about NADRA’s contract because of a letter by the Supervisor of Elections to the Immigration Department requesting visas for its officials to visit Fiji, released on a blog site.
• SoE must now disclose publicly who the other bidders were so that we can ascertain why NADRA was awarded the contract
• Why were local companies or even Australian, New Zealand and Indian companies not considered for the contract when they are the ones who have been funding our electoral process?