No terror link
20 June, 2017, 12:00 am
A COMPANY contracted to deliver software for the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) underwent and cleared a terrorism financing search.
Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem made the comments yesterday with regards to the Pakistani National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) which was contracted for the development of the FEO’s Election Management System.
The company has been the subject of intense online interest because of 2014 and 2016 reports alleging that NADRA officials in Pakistan accepted bribes in exchange for producing fake identification cards, some of which were allegedly produced for suspected terrorists.
Mr Saneem said the matter had been poorly researched and blown out of proportion by some.
He said NADRA beat five other companies that applied for the tender first advertised in both The Fiji Times and Fiji Sun on November 14, 2015.
A similar ad was placed on the Fiji Elections Office website as well.
“It is unfortunate to note the speculations that have appeared online especially in terms of the level of vindictiveness shown by some commentators,” Mr Saneem said yesterday.
“The Fijian Elections Office is an independent organisation and as per our finance policies any project that may cost over $100,000 is advertised for public tender.
“We do not have any discrimination against international bidders against local bidders. In the world of elections, there are various products, services and technical experts that may not necessarily exist in Fiji and therefore it is important to keep an open tender process.”
When questioned on why the tender was awarded to NADRA despite the allegations of identification fraud and assisting terrorists, Mr Saneem said this was done after an assessment by the Tender Board and the Evaluation Committee.
“A Tender Board was established headed by the FEO Director Operations, Anaseini Senimoli as well as a Technical Evaluation Committee of five IT persons,” he said.
“The two committees carried out a rigorous evaluation process as per the FEO Finance Policy before awarding the Tender.
“The FEO internal Auditor as well as a rep from the New Zealand High Commission were observers in the process at various stages.
“A terrorism financing search was also carried out and it was all clear.
“We received five Tenders and NADRA Technologies Limited offered the most competitive pricing. “
Mr Saneem said the EMS had been developed and delivered to FEO by the NADRA team that had since returned to Pakistan.
Online discussion on the NADRA delivered system also centered around a letter from FEO requesting visas for the NADRA team.
Mr Saneem clarified this was a normal process.
“It is standard practice for the FEO to provide visa support letter to all its international suppliers to allow for the granting of visas by the Department of Immigration. The immigration laws require it.”
â€¢ The Fiji Elections Office and the New Zealand High Commission signed a Grant Funding Agreement for the EMS system on June 17.
â€¢ Funding of $1.3 million for the system was provided by the New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Programme.
â€¢ At the signing NADRA was announced as the successful bidder for the EMS tender engaging GEM (Fiji) Ltd to serve as the local partner and provide local ongoing technical support for the project.
â€¢ An internal team was also started by FEO comprising three locals with expert in software development and elections Dries De Vleeschauwer engaged for quality assurance purposes.
â€¢ Core functions of the EMS involves: political party registration, polling venue management, postal vote application and management, polling day worker recruitment, voter list management, logistics tracking and equipment management.
*Mohammed Saneem Speech*