HOUSE COMMITTEE CONCERNED OVER THE STATE OF GOVERNMENT PRESS; TO SUPPORT ITS QUEST FOR MODERNIZATION AND AUTOMATION OF SERVICES
The Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Security has decried the current state of the Office of the Government Press and pledged support for the printer’s modernization and automation of services.
Speaking when they met the Government Printer during the Committee’s retreat with agencies, the legislators wondered why the Office has been underfunded the last few years, despite its wide mandate.
Members were informed that the Printer is in possession of aged and obsolete equipment with aver 70 percent of the printing machines in use having been acquired between 1930 and 1980.
This is despite the huge demand placed on the Printer to produce government documents. The Government Press handles printing of documents for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government and the general public.
The Press also produces documents such as budgets, Bills for the National Assembly and Senate, Acts of Parliament and Gazette Notices. While it charges the Ministries and State Departments, it does not charge Parliament for the production of Bills.
The head of the Government Press (Government Printer) Mr. Abdi Hassan Ali told the Committee that the Printer has the capacity to do more than they are currently doing if they got adequate budgetary allocation to facilitate the modernization of their equipment. He disclosed that the printer had produced over 42 million documents in the last Financial Year.
He further informed the legislators the printer has plans go embark on manufacturing of exercise books like they used to in the 1990s. He noted that the Printer could help bring down the cost of supplying exercise books for the free primary education program which currently costs the Ministry of education Kshs. 7.8B per year.
Mr. Ali revealed that the printer is owed Kshs. 451 million by Ministries and State Departments for printing services rendered on diverse dates in the recent few years.
Speaking on the matter, State House Comptroller Hon. Katoo ole Metito told the Committee that the Government Printer had been placed under the Executive Office of the President on a reforms mission. He urged the Committee to consider allocating the Printer sufficient funds in the next Financial Year to facilitate the modernization of the Press and the automation of operations.
The Committee Chairperson Hon. Gabriel Tongoyo pledged support for the crucial government service. He undertook to lead the Committee on a fact finding tour at the Government Press as soon as the House resumes from the short recess which runs from yesterday to April 11.
“We need to support the government printer. There is need for us to discuss how to turn around this crucial service as its our duty to do so. As soon as we resume from the short recess, we shall undertake a inspection tour of the printing press, so as to familiarize ourselves with your fate”, he told the Government Printer.
Other Members echoed his sentiments and affirmed their support to the Press.
“This Officer made a very nice presentation. But it was depressing too at the same time. We need to support this office which is a security installation for this country “, observed Hon. Francis Sigei.
The printer further disclosed that the Press had plans to supplant all foreign agencies that have been awarded printing contracts adding that with modern equipment, the Press has the capacity to produce all printing works across government.
“Since I was appointed to this office, I have been going round Ministries and Government Offices bidding for works. Mr. Chairman, I have travelled with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) abroad during the printing of ballot papers and I am certain there’s nothing those contracted services can do, that we have no capacity for”, he told MPs.