VENTURES AFRICA – British currency printing firm De La Rue has accused Kenya’s the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of giving the public ‘false allegations’ through a report it released on August 1 which alleged the firm overcharged the government in a money printing deal. The security printing, papermaking and cash handling systems firm says it wants the report corrected arguing that it contains “certain errors and omissions”.
The PAC report had also recommended the sacking of Central Bank governor Njuguna Ndung’u and former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya whom it said are not fit to hold public office.
De La Rue says the PAC should revise the report to remove what appear to be barriers to investment in Kenya for overseas companies. The PAC , which monitors government spending also said De La Rue was overcharging the government because when the money-printing contract was put to competitive bidding, the firm bid lower.
De La Rue Group Director of Communications Rob Hutchison has refuted claims in the report that the firm overcharged the government about 5.6 billion shillings ($66 million) to print 1.49 billion pieces of banknotes in short term contracts.
The report claims the short term contract was entered after the then Finance Minister Amos Kimunya cancelled a three-year deal to print 1.71 billion pieces of banknotes at a cost of 3.8 billion shillings ($48 million). The report therefore concludes that the short- term deal cost taxpayers a loss of 1.8 billion shillings ($21 million).
“De La Rue contributes a significant amount to the Kenyan economy and in the last three years, we estimate that is an excess of Sh3.9 billion and over 5 billion shillings ($59 million) in the last five years. So the point that we’ve actually cost the Kenyan taxpayer 1.8 billion shillings is indeed incorrect. In truth, we have actually allowed a net gain for the Kenyan taxpayer during that period of some 2 billion shillings ($23 million) ,” said Hutchison.
Hutchison said the contract to print new generation banknotes in Malta was cancelled and a new deal to print interim orders of the current generation banknotes at its factory in Ruaraka, Kenya entered. He noted that it would be misleading to compare the costs of the two deals.
“It is misleading to consider comparative pricing for new generation notes and current generation notes as it is like comparing sugar and salt. Although similar, they are of a different technical specification, a different size and significant differing quantities are involved,” said Hutchison.