Ministry of Education, Guyana

Wednesday, 01 May 2019 11:18

Response to Kaieteur Newspaper article '' $100M spent to ‘upgrade’ National Printers yet… Education Min. bypasses local printeries to sole-source from T&T''

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has taken note of an article published in the Wednesday, May 1, 2019 edition of the Kaieteur News with the headline “$100M spent to ‘upgrade’ National Printers yet… Education Min. bypasses local printeries to sole-source from T&T”. 

The MoE wishes to advise that the printing of exercise books and textbooks produced locally is contracted to the Guyana National Printers Limited (GNPL) which is a state-owned entity located at 1 Public Road, La Penitence, Georgetown, Guyana.
The Education Ministry has no arrangement for printing of local text and exercise books with any other company as is inferred in the article.

Please see the contents of the Kaieteur News article below:

$100M spent to “upgrade” National Printers yet…Education Ministry bypasses local printeries to sole-source from T&T

In November 2016, President David Granger visited the La Penitence facilities of the state-owned Guyana National Printers Limited (GNPL).
Over the years, it had been critical in producing exercise and text books for distribution in schools; birth, death and marriage certificates, Official Gazettes and other parliamentary documents including the budget estimates, calendars, labels, other forms and cardboard boxes.
However, despite celebrating 80 years in operations, a lack in investments and mismanagement has been bleeding the operations.
In late 2016, during the visit, the President promised that he will assist in facilitating a cash injection to help reverse the losses.
Reportedly, $100M was plugged into the operations to upgrade and modernize the printery.
A used printing press was acquired from overseas and installed early last year but it has failed to deliver.
Since last year, GNPL has been engaging suppliers in


GNPL has reportedly been doling out hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase exercise and text books overseas, sideling locals.

Trinidad and Tobago to produce exercise books and text books.
There is little evidence that the tenders were even advertised so that local printers could bid.
What has made the matter even more troubling is the fact that local printers are saying they have the capacity to print for way cheaper than what is being produced and shipped from Trinidad to Guyana.
They have been bypassed.
“Let me make it clear for you. The purchase of books for the Ministry of Education is big business. It involved hundreds of millions of dollars.
“We have capacity in Guyana to produce cheaper despite we have to pay the taxes on every raw material brought here. The fact is, based on our information, GNPL is paying way more than what we could get it done for,” one printer insisted.
The situation is one of a growing number of cases of sole sourcing by government entities, which have sidelined legitimate companies, in favour of friends, and for kickbacks.
During its time in opposition, the Coalition had criticized instances of sole-sourcing and other procurement procedures which would have closed the door to transparency and accountability.
“When questions are asked, the Education Ministry and others are coming up with all kinds of excuses to explain away why we didn’t get the contract for the books. Most of these contracts are executed in secret.”
To make things more insulting, it appears that even the text books that Guyana have rights to, including Timehri Readers and Fun With Languages, are not being printed here.
The number of exercise books needed annually is said to be over 500,000.
“So not only is it not being advertised, it is sole-sourced and we don’t know if we are getting value for money. This is the good life we were promised.”
In 2015, according to a government statement following the President’s visit to GNPL, it was disclosed that the company suffered financial losses that year to the tune of some $60M as a result of poor oversight and poorly functioning equipment.
However, as of October 2016, the new Board had worked to reduce that loss by $7.4M.
Operating since 1939, the GNPL had 80-plus staff members, many of whom have worked at the printery for over 30 years, and who have accumulated considerable expertise and experience working under trying conditions.
Speaking to the staff members, the President during his visit in 2016, explained that it is necessary to adapt to changes in a rapidly evolving society.
“The experience that you have now has to be transformed into success in the future… I want to ensure that your employment is secure I want you to be assured we are going to continue to ensure that GNPL will overcome its obstacles and is made more competitive.
“You have to be able to compete with your competitors, who have better equipment… We have to look at recapitalising GNPL to ensure that the equipment you have is abreast with the technological age,” he said.
It was disclosed that with more advanced equipment, GNPL will be able to undertake 90 percent of the printing needs of the Government.
That is not yet a reality.

 

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