ECONOMYNEXT – India-funded Unique ID card project is in the process of appointing a new consultant while fresh tenders have been called after the failed bids, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Santhosh Jha said.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government has disqualified the two Indian bidders Madras Security Printers (MSP) and Protein Technologies which won the tenders in the previous bidding process.
India has already given an advance aid of 450 million Indian rupees to President Wickremesinghe’s government to fund the digital ID project, which aims to collect biographic and biometric information, including facial, iris, and fingerprint data.
“The process for doing a new tender is ongoing because the last one was not a success. Currently we are in the process of appointing a consultant,” Jha told reporters in Colombo on Thursday (01).
“Middle of this year you should be able to see something happening.”
The decision to award the tender to print digital ID cards for an Indian firm has raised concerns over data privacy of Sri Lankan citizens and protection of personal data.
Some security analysts have raised concern over data privacy with Indian companies being selected to print the IDs.
The government has called for tenders and four foreign manufactures with local partners have bided for a separate electronic National Identity Card (e-NIC) project, the Public Security Minister Tiran Alles said last month.
Alles has said the Indian project has the risk of data privacy breach and he would not want data of Sri Lankan citizens “to go out to any other country”.
The Department of Personal Registration which is in charge of issuing NICs comes under the purview of Alles’ Ministry of Public Security. But the Indian project is handled by Ministry of Technology.
The Indian project is expected to store the personal data of every individual in a centralized system to issue identification cards as per the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), government officials have said, to effective and efficient delivery of government services, financial inclusion, and poverty reduction.
An Indo-Sri Lanka Joint Project Monitoring Committee (JPMC) has already been appointed to oversee the progress of the project. (Colombo/Feb 02/2024)