Tuesday, February 27

Techno Brain supplies passport booklets

Techno Brain on Friday supplied part of 240 000 booklets consignment to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services.

Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda confirmed in an interview the supply of some of the passport booklets.

A woman holds her passport during a business trip

He said: “We are expecting the delivery by Friday, but some of them are replacements of the passport booklets that Techno Brain used when it took over management of the passport issuance system. These were bought by Immigration Department using government money.”

Chakaka-Nyirenda, who ordered the cancellation of the contract in December 2021, said the contract  remains terminated and that he needed time to check with the Treasury on monetary demands Techno Brain was making for the alleged breach of contract.

The AG said the delivery is coming in as both parties have mandatory obligations to meet in the cancelled contract.

The department’s director general Charles Kalumo also confirmed to Zodiak Online on Thursday about the expected supply of booklets.

They are coming at a time Malawians are struggling to get passports. The department has been rationing the issuance of the passports since 2021 due to shortage of booklets.

The terminated contract was worth $60 million (about K47.4 billion at the time it was signed).

At the time he cancelled the contract, the AG said it was not supposed to be signed in the first place because there were several things that were wrong.

He said the contract was fraught with irregularities and he wondered how controlling officers went ahead to sign it.

The AG earlier told journalists that apart from retaining proceeds from the production of passports, Techno Brain had been asking for payment from Account Number One.

The contract signed in March 2019 by the then ruling Democratic Progressive Party government was for 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.

Documentation which Nation on Sunday saw at the time showed that the supplier of passports sources the booklets from Vienna, Austria where the average unit cost of a booklet is $9.13 (K7 221.83) and from Singapore where the cost was around $1.73 (K1 368.43).

The supplier was then selling 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 showed that Techno Brain was making 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

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