Voter listing hits snags as EC fails to complete procurement |
Completion of the task for preparing a voter list with photographs within the time specified in the roadmap now seems uncertain as the Election Commission (EC) is unlikely to complete the procurement of equipment for the task on time.
According to the roadmap, the procurement and deployment of all sorts of hi-tech equipment for voter listing are supposed to be completed in next October but it will now require additional two months as the EC's earlier move for timely procurement of the equipment has apparently failed.
After over two months since floating of the first tender for purchasing the equipment, the EC yesterday asked its secretariat to float tender once again as the technical evaluation committee (TEC) disqualified bids on most of the equipment, sources in the EC said.
Once the tender is floated again, it will require around three months from the date of floating to complete the process for awarding the contracts for supplying the equipment, a senior official at the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) under the planning ministry said, referring to the Public Procurement Rules (PPR) 2003.
In addition to this time, the bidders, who will be awarded the contracts, will have to be granted a few weeks for supplying the equipment to the EC. The present tender gave four weeks' time for completing supply of equipment to the EC after a bidder is awarded the job, sources at the EC Secretariat said.
So, the procurement is expected to be completed in December and in that case the field level task for preparing the voter list with photographs is unlikely to be started on a large scale before January next year whereas the EC in its roadmap had announced to start the task on a large scale in October this year.
The EC is searching options to complete the procurement process as soon as possible by complying with the Public Procurement Rules (PPR) 2003, sources in the EC said.
Contacted by The Daily Star yesterday, Election Commissioner Muhammed Sohul Hussain said completing the procurement may be delayed as the PPR 2003 made it mandatory to follow a time frame to complete a government purchase.
About 15 weeks is required to complete only the tender process for awarding the contracts to a bidder for supplying goods, said a senior official at the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) under the planning ministry.
The EC however can appeal to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for reducing the required time in the PPR to complete the task of procurement, he said.
Asked whether the EC will ask the government to relax the provisions in the PPR to complete its procurement, Election Commissioner Sohul said they are thinking ways to complete the procurement as soon as possible by complying with the legal provisions.
In its roadmap announced on July 15, the EC said the task for preparing the voter list with photographs will be completed by October next year and the stalled parliamentary election would definitely be held in December 2008.
In a bid to implement the roadmap, the EC Secretariat on July 7 floated international tender for purchasing of 8,000 laptops, 8,000 webcams, 8,000 finger print scanners, 8,000 Bangla keyboards and 3-button mouse, 550 desktop computers with UPS and monochrome laser printer, 3,000 portable electricity generators, 90 desktop computers with UPS and 64 colour laser printers for the task of voter listing.
Thirty bids were submitted in response to the tender for supplying the equipment, sources in the EC Secretariat said.
Evaluating the bids, the TEC has found only three bids qualified for supplying of laptop computers, finger print scanners and Bangla keyboards and button mouse. It recommended that the EC sign contract with the bidders for supplying the said equipment and floating tender again for purchasing rest of the equipment.
Now approval of the advisers' committee on purchase is required to purchase the laptops, finger print scanners and keyboards as the procurement of equipment involves Tk 51.96 crore. According to the PPR 2003, approval of the purchase committee is required for any procurement involving over Tk 25 crore.
Once the purchase committee approves the procurement, the bidders will take a month from the date of having the contract to supply the equipment.
If the process is completed within this month and the bidders supply the equipment in September, the EC however cannot use the equipment for voter listing, as the other equipment like Webcam will not be available to make a complete set for the job.
At yesterday's meeting, the EC also asked its secretariat whether more equipment can be collected by alternative ways as it received a few hundred laptops, webcams and other equipment from different donors.
By using the equipment, the EC started the field level task for simultaneously preparing the voter list with photographs and national identity cards on last Saturday on a limited scale.
Initially it started the task in Rajshahi City Corporation area and the task in Khulna City Corporation and eight municipality areas will begin on August 19 using the equipment received from donors.
According to the EC's roadmap, the task of enumeration and data entry is supposed to be completed in June next year while the task for correction of draft voter list is to continue from November this year to August next year. September and October are allocated for printing and distribution of the final list.
If starting of the field task in full swing is delayed, it will be very difficult to maintain the timeframe as there are other steps in the voter listing, officials at the EC Secretariat said.
The CEC on April 5 announced an 18-month timeframe for preparing a voter list with photographs and completing other preparations to hold the stalled ninth parliamentary election.