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RFP Outsourcing of Visa Services- Q&A
09/09/2016

Embassy of India

Beijing

 

TENDERING FOR OUTSOURCING OF VISA SERVICES

( RFP DATED 31.08.2016)

QUESTIONS FROM PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS  & ANSWERS (REVISED)

Q.1.(V). Mandatory Criteria, Page No.7). The average annual turnover for the bidding company is mentioned as US$2.5 million.While Annexure D mentions the required turnover as US$250000. Kindly clarify the exact financial turnover required from bidding companies.

Ans: The annual turn over required from bidding companies is US$ 2.5 Million. A corrigendum to the RFP is being published shortly.

Q.2.(VIII). Scope of Work & Deliverables Required, page No. 14). With reference to clause X, telephonic enquiries should be attended from 9 AM to 5.30 PM.However, under clause c. Operational Penalties, page 37, it is mentioned that telephonic enquiries will be responded to from 9 AM to 7 PM. Kindly clarify the operational hours for contact centre.

Ans :  It is clarified that the telephonic queries should be answered from 9.00 AM to 7.00 PM.

Q.3. (XVII). Opening of Bids, Page 51 Clause (i). The RFP mentions that there will be two Service Providers operating simultaneously. Please clarify if there will be a separate service provider for each city or both the service providers will operate in each city. Chinese regulations do not permit two VACs of the same Mission in one city. Kindly clarify if the Embassy will select a single service provider for each city?

Ans  :  Itis clarified that only one Service Provider will be engaged for operations in China.

Q.4.(Annexure  D, Page 80). If two service providers operate in same city, the size of the premises (300 sqm) and counters(14) for each single VAC is quite high based on the volume of applications in each city. In a two service provider scenario, these specifications will not be commercially viable. Will the Mission allow flexibility in size of the premises and number of counters?

Ans. It is clarified that only one Service Provider will be engaged for operations in China.

Q.5.( Annexure E, Page 99). The Service Provider can charge normal call charges after five minutes whereas page 99 states Efficient VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or Toll Free calls should be used. First three minutes (at the minimum) should be toll free after which only normal charges should apply. Kindly clarify the number of toll free minutes.

Ans: The Service Providercan charge normal call charges after five minutes of toll free call.The waiting period for getting the line should not exceed five minutes.

Q.6. (Annexure D, Page 80). Reference to Question 3,  additional 4 cities are mentioned. Does the Mission intend to open IVACs in these 4 cities? If yes, can the Mission provide application volumes for each of the additional city?

Ans: Cities other than Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai are not being considered for IVACs in the present tender process. Mention of other cities in Annexure D, Page 80 of the RFP may kindly be ignored.

Q.7. Could the Mission provide monthly break-up of application count by each location to understand seasonality?

Ans: Monthly break-up of total visas issued  during the period from August 2015-July 2016 is given below :

Month

Beijing

Guangzhou

Shanghai

Total

August 2015

2997

3780

3658

10435

September 2015

2883

4916

4289

12088

October 2015

3062

3972

3726

10760

November 2015

4865

5873

6158

16896

December 2015

3611

5370

4794

13775

January 2016

3582

5411

5178

14171

February 2016

2317

3008

2319

7644

March 2016

3315

6153

3053

12521

April 2016

2349

4527

2552

9428

May 2016

1976

3889

1940

7805

June 2016

1828

3913

1855

7596

July 2016

1856

4282

2180

8318

 

Q.8. When is e-Tourist Visa (eTV) expected to be introduced and what is Mission’s projection on uptake % of e-Tourist Visa(eTV)?

Ans:e-Tourist visa for Chinese citizens has already been introduced w.e.f 30th July, 2015. Data related to the total number of e-Tourist visas granted during last one year  and average annual regular visa applications based on the figures of  last two years have already been mentioned in Clause II, Introduction, Para 3, Page No. 4 of the RFP.

Q.9. Could the Mission provides a split on applicationsreceived by post and by courier in each location? Please provide us with themonthly break up.

Ans: At an average, 5% of applications are received through post/courier and nearly 90% of the visa applications are submitted by the Travel Agents at the IVACs. No monthly data of the above is readily available.

Q.10. Due to high volume of applications projected, would the Mission consider making appointments mandatory to lodge visa applications? Emergency and urgent visas will be exempted.

Ans:The appointment system to lodge visa applications will not be mandatory.

Q.11. Could the Mission provide statistics on average number ofemails and telephone calls currently received/handled?

Ans.  The IVACs receive around 100 telephonic enquiries per day at an average and around 20 emails per day.

Q.12. Does the Bidding Company itself need to meet the financial criteria or is it sufficient to show that the Group of companies in which the Bidding Company sits cumulatively meets the financial criteria?

Ans. The Bidding company should meet the experience and financial criteria for taking part in the tender process.However, for the purpose of this tendering process, it is enough if the Holding Company of the Bidding Company meets with the financial criteria and gives guarantee for the financial liabilities including provision of Bank Guarantees.

Q.13. If the Group’s financials are sufficient and are audited – would a certificate from an Auditing Agency still be required?

Ans.  Certificate from an Auditing Agency is required in respect of the bidding company/Group of companies.

Q.14 In Annexure D, Sec2 - FINANCIAL STRENGTH OF THE COMPANY, in      question 1 reference is made to an authorised external Auditing Agency – please advise what Auditing Agencies are authorised?

Ans.  This is as per provisions of the Companies Act 2013. The Auditing Firm should be registered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) or with Fellow Members/Associate Members of ICAI in case operating from outside India.

Q.15. Annexure D Sec-2, Question 3 requires capacity to provide insurance –  will a declaration signed by the Authorised signatory of the bidding entity suffice?If not, please advise how this should be evidenced?

Ans.A declaration by the Authorised signatory of the bidding company confirming capacity to provide insurance coverage as per provisions of the RFP is sufficient for this purpose.

Q.16. RFP refers to Specimen Main Agreement and Service Level Agreement – can draft version of these of these documents be provided?

Ans: Draft versions of Main Agreement and Service Level Agreement are being uploaded on the websites of the Mission and the Ministry shortly.

Q.17 (II. INTRODUCTION, Page No. 4). The Missions/Post under took   visa/passport/consular transactions per an num approximately based on the average of last two years’ transaction as per details below: (Details given for average no. of applications anticipated per an num).

Please provide us total number of E-Visa Applications from China since its commencement, month-wise. Could you please provide month-wise volume of visa applications for the last 3 years?What percentages of applications are currently received through Post and Travel Agents at the VACs?

Ans: Data related to the total number of e-Tourist visa and average annual number of regular visa applications have already been provided in the RFP, Clause II Introduction, Para 3, Page No. 4.  Month-wise volume of visa applications from all three locations in China for the last one year has been provided as answer to Question No. 7. At an average, 5% of applications are received through Post/Courier and nearly 90% of the visa applications are submitted by the Travel Agents at the IVACs.

Q.18. (Bid Security).  In whose name does the Bid security of USD 50,000/- need to be released? Will the Embassy accept the Bid security currently with the embassy per the old RFP?

Ans: A fresh draft towards Bid Security of USD 50,000/- in favour of the  “Embassy of India, Beijing” is to be submitted for the present tendering process. The Tendering Process through the old RFP dated 04.01.2016 has been discontinued  and all the participating companies have been informed to collect their Bid Security draft from the Embassy.

Q.19. (Transition). There is no mention of the word transition in the entire document. Failure on the part of the incumbent service provider has not been addressed at all in the RFP. Detailed information is solicited as far as transition is concerned to ensure that a process is defined to ensure accountability. Below is a sample of questions that need clarification:

i) When will the incumbent service provider end accepting applications?

ii) When will the contact centre of the incumbent service provider discontinue its operations?

iii) Will the applications that were processed by incumbent be handled?

iv) How will the handover of the unprocessed applications, courier labels, passports, etc. be implemented?

v) Will the new service provider charge their service fee for handling applications handed over by incumbent service provider?

Due to poor transition,there are disastrous consequences and can cause major inconvenience to the applicant community, the service provider & the Indian Mission abroad.

Ans.The incumbent Service provider will accept applications till 31st December, 2016. All Visa Applications accepted by the incumbent ServiceProvider which may be under process at the time of transition will be handled directlyby the Embassy of India, Beijing and the Consulates in Guangzhou and Shanghai.

Q.20. In the event of a significant adverse change in the circumstances that results in a verifiable drop of over 20% in the number of applications in China, due to the introduction of e-Tourist Visa (eTV) or similar measures by the Government of India, the Missions will consider representations from the Service Provider for revision of the Service Fee ( Pg 12). Could you please clarify on the duration of the drop in applications, post new contract start date, when it will be reviewed, for this clause to be effective?

Ans.It has already been mentioned in the RFP that a representation from the Service Provider for revision of service fee will be considered when there is a drop of over 20% in the number of applications received.

Q.21. The Service Provider should provide an efficient and courteous telephonic enquiry system through Toll free numbers/ Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The Service Provider can charge normal call charges after five minutes. Special higher call charges are not permitted. No caller should be made to wait for more than eight minutes and waiting time should not be chargeable. The telephonic enquiries should be attended from 9 AM to 5.30 PM on all collection days and an automatic answering system should be functional outside the above period including holidays. ( Pg15).

Kindly provide the detailson number of calls and emails received from the applicants on a daily basis?

Ans.  The IVACs receive around 100 telephonicenquiries per day at an average and around 20 emails per day.

Q.22. (Digitization & Indexation of Documents).The Service provider is responsible for Digitization/Indexation of Consular, Passport and Visa application forms along with enclosures, as per the parameters prescribed in Annexure A. (Pg 21). We understand that new service provider will be digitising records from the day it starts the operations and will not be responsible to complete digitisation of past records.

Ans.The new Service Provider will be responsible for digitization of visa applications received only during their period of contract.

Q.23. (Urgent Visa Category).Is the service provider allowed to charge extra (fee specified by the Mission) for Urgent Visa Applications. Additionally, please provide month wise count of applications processed under this Urgent category in the last 3 years?

Ans.The Service Provider is not allowed to charge extra for Urgent Visa Applications. Due to expeditious processing of visa applications by the Embassy in general, such cases of urgent visas are nominal. At present urgent visa applications are handled in the Embassy/Consulates directly and hence no such data for the last three years is maintained.

Q.24. (Postal Applications-Incomplete Documents). Service provider should be allowed to return the applications that do not have all the mandatory documents in the postal package received after deducting the service provider fee and the return courier charges.

Ans:In cases of incomplete applications received through courier/post, the Service Provided has to contact the applicant as per details mentioned in Clause VIII,para 12 (a) (xiii). If no response is received within one week, the applications can be returned after deducting service fee. It is clarified that the return courier charges can also be deducted by the Service Provider.

Q.25. The Bidding Company must provide certification that its operations are compliant with local labour laws and relevant tax regime. This certification can only be provided after the operations have begun and taxes are filed at the end of the 1st financial year.Please confirm if our understanding is correct.

Ans.A declaration by the bidding company certifying that the local labour laws and relevant tax regime will be complied with is to be provided in the Technical Bid.

Q.26.  (A- penalty of 0.5% per day)  “no of days” should be replaced with “per business day”.

Ans:It is not possible to incorporate this change in the RFP at this stage.

Q.27. (C- OperationalPenalties).  “No. of Days” should bereplaced with “per business day” in the relevant clauses under this section.

Ans:It is not possible to incorporate this change in the RFP at this stage.

Q.28. Bank Guarantee. The Service Provider shall provide a Bank Guarantee, fixed at 3 days of daily Government revenue collected by Service Provider for providing those services(consular/passport/visa services), as applicable, being outsourced by Mission/Post,based on the average of the preceding twelve months) for the government funds held by it temporarily, after collection, and for the safety of documents.Could you please provide the amount of Bank Guarantee, as this amount will bean important factor of budgetary exercise?

Ans:Details of Bank Guarantee amounts have been mentioned in Clause IX, Para 13 of the RFP, page No. 22 – 24.

Q.29. Annexure D (Mandatory Criteria). Annexure D, Section 3 Q3, covers additional 4 cities (Tianjin,Shenzhen, Chengdu and Hangzhou). Could you please clarify if the service provider may have to operate at these locations in near future? If yes,what would be the VAC sizing, volumes, staffing and counter details and approximate timelines to start the operations at these locations? 

Ans: Cities other than Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai are not being considered for IVACs in the present tendering process. Mention of other cities in Annexure D, Page 80 of the RFP may kindly be ignored.

Q.30. Annexure C. Note 2 of Annex-C says that: The bidding company should indicate the calculation for arriving at the amount of tax payable by indicating the amount of profit provided for and quoting the local tax rates/slabs for the same. This leaves no place where service provider can insert figures of Indirect taxes paid by the service provider. Is that required to be added as part of Expenditure? Where will the VAT/GST/SERVICE TAX component be captured between (a) to (g) of Section C Part 3, Justification for Service Fee quoted?

Ans: All the taxes such as GST/VAT/Sales Tax would have already been included under Annexure-C, Part-I, Section-B for various items while arriving at total expenditure. The Service Fee and VAS charges are also inclusive of VAT/local taxes. Under Part-III, only taxes not included earlier should be indicated.Generally, this would be Income Tax or any other taxes as applicable to outsourcing companies

Q.31. Signature of CEO/Directors on all the Documents. Will the Mission consider the RFP response and relevant Annexure including the Financial Bid to be signed by a senior person authorized by the Board of Directors of the company? As the CEO/Directors are not usually available at one place hence getting the entire response document signed by one of them will be a difficult task considering the stringent timelines of the RFP. Hence we request Mission to kindly consider the request.

Ans:Only CEO or a person of equivalent rank can sign the bid documents.

Q.32. As section VII. 11. D “The Bidding Company should calculate the service fee in a professional manner on the basis of a detailed cost and work analysis, as per the Proforma provided for the Financial Bid (Annexure-C). The calculations should include provision for local taxes,VAT and profit margin and a reasonable rate of return. Since underbidding has been a key cause for poor quality of services and malpractices, any bid with incomplete or incoherent details or unsustainable service fee will be rejected as unresponsive.”

We request Mission to kindly clarify on the above determination, as the service fee pricing has been recently disclosed during the recent tender process.  Could you please explain how will Mission decide a service fee as unsustainable,since all the prospective bidders are already aware of the L1 service fee through the recent bidding procedure ?

Ans: The old tendering process vides RFP dated 04.01.2016 has been discontinued and it has no bearing on the current tendering process.

 

 

 

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