Fiji NFP Calls For Audit Of Election Management System Procurement Process

Credibility of Pakistani company selected questioned

By Litia Cava

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 22, 2017) – The National Federation Party (NFP) has called on the Office of the Auditor-General to conduct an immediate independent audit into the tender process and awarding of the Election Management System (EMS) to National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA).

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem confirmed earlier this week that NADRA beat five other companies that applied for the tender which was advertised in both dailies.

The Pakistani company NADRA has been the subject of discussions because of the 2014 and 2016 reports alleging that company officials in Pakistan accepted bribes in exchange for producing fake identification cards, some of which were allegedly produced for suspected terrorists.

NFP said an independent audit of the EMS must be conducted by a competent and independent information technology (IT) expert to ensure that the proposed EMS does not disenfranchise the voters of Fiji.

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said the audit findings must also be made public.

Prof Prasad said when the Supervisor of Elections signed the agreement with the New Zealand High Commission on June 17 last year, he (Mr Saneem) announced that the EMS would be developed through a $1.3 million [US$630,000] fund provided by the New Zealand Government and the project would be completed and piloted in December 2017.

"This is inconsistent with what is on NADRA website about the EMS. It describes Fiji's existing system as one of distributed and disparate Election Management modules and claims to develop a Centralised Election Management System (CEMS) for better and faster decision making by February 2017," he said.

He says it was absolutely critical that political parties and voters are assured of the robust integrity of the tender process as well as of the integrity and quality of the new election technology.

"A rigorous audit of the system by independent experts with extensive knowledge of election technology is critical, with associated documentation made available to political parties and to voters.

"We need to be assured that the full tender and procurement process and the Government's guidelines in place for the procurement of goods and services were followed in the awarding of such important and sensitive systems on elections, which practically determine the next government," said Prof Prasad.

Social Democratic Liberal Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka said a commission needed to be set up to conduct a special investigation on the issue.

"The Auditor-General deals with public funds and only when the public funds are involved in the contract, the signing of the contract comes to play then it should be involved," he said.

"In this case, the way to do it is to try and set up a commission to do an investigation, but it would be impossible because the commission can only be set up by Parliament and the numbers are held by Government so they won't vote for a commission."

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the party stance was clear and that was "the contract must be terminated".

Fiji Times Online.
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