In an unexpected twist of events, the Punjab Excise Department is facing a challenging situation due to the halt in operations of the company responsible for producing vehicle registration cards. The department had previously engaged in a five-year agreement with the ‘Inbox Company,’ which concluded in May, aiming to procure 8.5 million cards at a cost of Rs. 438 per card.
Although the contract was briefly extended, providing an additional 400,000 cards, it couldn’t avert the impending issues. During the extension, the Excise department managed to distribute more than 80,000 registration cards. To prevent a complete standstill, the department issued a late tender, but progress has been sluggish, primarily confined to the technical bid phase.
The current predicament leaves the Excise department grappling with a backlog of 2.5 million number plates. In an attempt to address this matter, the department is exploring alternative solutions, including the potential introduction of virtual cards.
Complicating matters further, the cost of smart registration cards for cars and motorbikes in Punjab is anticipated to undergo a significant increase. This surge is attributed to the remarkable appreciation of the US dollar against the Pakistani Rupee. The contract, awarded in 2018 with a dollar exchange rate of Rs. 140, has witnessed a substantial rise, now exceeding Rs. 280.
Punjab Excise Department’s smart cards are known for their more than ten security features, including a monogram, a temperature-dependent color-changing pattern, and unique lamination. However, the essential raw materials for crafting these advanced cards are imported, adding another layer of complexity to the existing situation. As the Excise department grapples with these challenges, the repercussions on both its operations and end-users are under close scrutiny.
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