Cabinet passes, ACC challenges Nexbis border control system

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has filed a court case against the Rf500 million Border Control System proposed by the Department of Immigration and Emigration and signed by the government in November 2010.

Malaysia’s Nexbis Limited has been contracted to develop the system.

ACC’s case follows yesterday’s Cabinet decision to resume the border control programme with Nexbis. ACC has not revealed details of the case, and had not responded to inquiries at time of press.

Officials close to the matter said corruption was a concern. Earlier this year, the ACC had asked the government to halt program proceedings on suspicion of corruption during the bidding process.

Immigration Controller Abdulla Shahid told Minivan News that the government maintains its aim to launch the system after Eid festivities and SAARC events have been concluded this month.

“It is common in most developed and developing countries to have an electronic border control system, such as this one,” said Shahid, noting that Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand had already subscribed to similar programs.

Immigration Department had signed a 20-year build, operate, and transfer (BOT) concession contract with Nexbis on October 17, 2010 when the ACC requested the department adjourn the signing ceremony due to a “serious” public complaint.

Nexbis shares immediately plunged 6.3 percent on the back of the ACC’s announcement. The company subsequently issued a statement claiming that speculation over corruption was “politically motivated” and had “wrought irreparable damage to Nexbis’ reputation and brand name.”

President Mohamed Nasheed upheld the ACC’s request in January 2011, and in late May the Cabinet deliberated the matter and approved the programme, overruling the ACC’s reservations.

However, operations were stalled and in August, Nexbis threatened legal action against the Maldives’ Immigration Department if action on the border control agreement was not taken. The company had allegedly bought equipment and paid import duties to the government, and was incurring losses while waiting for a resolution from the Maldivian government.

The Rf500 million project would install an electronic border gate system in Male’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), bringing technological upgrades such as facial recognition, fingerprint identification and e-gates to the Maldives, which has struggled with loose immigration policies and reports of human trafficking.

The Maldives currently holds a 10-year contract for passport production and scanning services with an Austrian company, Shahid said.

Local media has reported that the Nexbis program does not include the expected technological upgrades including automated facial recognition, e-gates and passport production. Shahid confirmed today that those features are included in the program.

“The Nexbis system would make the immigration and security process simpler and more secure for everyone involved,” he said.


6 thoughts on “Cabinet passes, ACC challenges Nexbis border control system”

  1. Why cant we as a state avoid corruption and adopt the principles of good governance. Transparency, Accountability, Trustworthy, etc.

    These are the principles what HEP Nasheed campaigned for. But today every decision his government arrives is being challenged at various institutions. Surely, there is some truth in it. Otherwise it wont go to this level.

  2. Corruption can ACC can explain to everyone , one year still the full report is not out from ACC , only they are talking about technical .
    The person who complain to ACC assistant controller Ibrahim waheed took advantage to deal this system to iris confirm source ..
    The bidding the evaluation is done by independent committee and tender board and award also by tender board ...

  3. Tender? Bidding? Independence?

    Shall I elaborate for the benefit of Minivan's foreign readers?

    Requests for Proposal are put together in the Maldives in less than a week and are about a page long.

    The period between the issue of RFPs and the deadlines for submissions are usually 2-5 days in length.

    RFPs usually include obvious hints that a party has already been selected to win the tender.

    Evaluations are made based on criteria that are almost always subjective and more often than not mysterious.

    Corruption is an issue in just about every government in every country but the level of corruption in ours is almost hilarious.

    Please refer to the outsourced projects under the MDP government to get a sense of the lack of a bidding process and complete disregard for the financial, technical and resource strength of the selected parties.

  4. How do you accuse someone without any evidence?

    All allegations are baseless.


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