Techno Brain under probe

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Techno Brain, the company banned by World Bank and African Development Bank (ADB) for fraud and corruption is facing a new multi-billion Kwacha probe in Malawi over a passport deal with the Malawi Government.

In 2019, the Government awarded a US$60.8 million (about MK50 billion) electronic passports contract to Techno Brain Global FZE for the supply of 800,000 passports.

A member of the International Relations Committee of Parliament which is conducting the probe has told the local media that one thing that has been discovered is that the company quoted passport prices at expensive prices.

According to the Member of Parliament, Techno Brain pegged each passport at US$76 but in the Southern African Development Community region, a copy of a passport ranges from $25 to $60.

Chairperson of the committee Patrick Bandawe said they want to find the truth on behalf of Malawians and ensure that there was justice over the contract. He added that the committee will deliver a report in Parliament after the probe.

So far, the committee has met Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda, Department of Immigration, Ministry of Homeland Security and Treasury officials.

Last month, Human Rights Defenders Coalition asked Homeland Security Minister Richard Chimwendo Banda to cancel the contract, saying it was designed to favour the supplier.

“In Clause 49, the payments are not linked to the passports issued. There is no performance bond guarantee and there is no advance payment guarantee. This means that payments are due whether the contractor is performing or not.

“There is no provision for liquidated damages in the contract to cover delays by the contractor in the event that the contractor fails or delays in issuing passports during the period of the contract,” HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence said in a letter to Chimwendo.

Malawians pay MK90,000 (about US$109) for an ordinary 36-page passport but currently, the Department of Immigration is printing few passports due to lack of necessary resources.

The Tonse Alliance during campaign promised to reduce the passport fees to K14,000. Last year, President Lazarus Chakwera blamed the Techno Brain contract for his government’s failure to reduces the fees.

On the international stage, Techno has been banned by World Bank for collusive and fraudulent practices the company used to influence the awarding of a contract in its favor.

African Development Bank also established that the company indulged in fraudulent practices during tender bidding

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