‘Local firms to provide govt printing supplies’

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Acting Government Printer Mokhachane Posholi
Acting Government Printer Mokhachane Posholi

Rethabile Pitso

MINISTRY of Law and Constitutional Affairs Principal Secretary Tebello Thabane has said government would continue tendering from local companies for printing and stationery supplies.

This follows the ministry’s decision to return the printing works for all government departments to the Government Printing Department instead of outsourcing from independent service providers. Falling under Law and Constitutional Affairs ministry, the Government Printing Department produces documents and printed apparel among other merchandise.

According to Advocate Thabane, the move was meant to restore the role of the Government Printing Department which is mandated with providing printing services to all the government departments.

“The mandate of the Government Printing Department is to develop printed materials for every government ministry in a formal and secure environment,” said Advocate Thabane.

“It was established to ensure quality assurance and to manage the cost of production. The legal notice of 2011 which established this policy stipulates this mandate clearly.”

He said the service was only outsourced from local companies following the breaking down of the department’s machinery and when there was an urgent need for printing facilities.

“We, however, came to the realisation that over the years, the outsourcing was being misused by some government officials who would unnecessarily hire independent companies even when the Government Printing Department was fully functional,” Advocate Thabane said.

“We have found this trend to be costly as many of these companies overcharged us.

“It also came to our notice that some ministries failed to order the correct materials, such as printing paper for instance, suitable for the kind of copier machines used in their ministry. And this would lead to some machines being broken as a result.”

He added: “So what we want to do is simply restore the status quo of the functions of the government printing unit which has the full capacity to produce government documents.

“We will continue to give local companies tendering opportunities to supply materials such as pens, ink and paper to our department as we have always been doing. So I urge them to submit their profiles to our department in order for us to continue working together.”

Advocate Thabane said the move was also meant to stem the leakage of classified government documents to the general public.

“We have experienced some scandalous situations where government documents have ended up in the wrong hands and resultantly misused by people who did not have the authority to access them,” he said.

“Government Printing Department staff take an oath of secrecy that hinders them from disclosing the contents of materials they produce. “So we are doing what we can to ensure we keep government records safely away from prying eyes.”

Also speaking to the Lesotho Times, Acting Government Printer Mokhachane Posholi, said the department had improved its payment system to suppliers with the establishment of a trading account which had been effective since January 2015.

“Since the Government Printing Department operates continuously with all ministries, it needs a reliable budget that avails payments to our suppliers every time a job has been tendered,” Mr Posholi said.

“We came up with a trading account which enables easier access to funding for payments instead of waiting for the Ministry of Finance to authorise payment vouchers through the Central Bank of Lesotho.

“This payment system means that whenever payments are made to the Government Printing Department, we can re-use that money to pay our suppliers for any services rendered.

“With the old payment system we used to take about a month to complete a payment, but with this one it has been remarkably shortened. We will be working with Standard Lesotho Bank to help us appropriate the funds into the bank accounts of our service providers.”

He also urged suppliers to submit their profiles to the department saying it stood them in better stead when tenders are advertised.

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