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Revamping of government press on course

A task force formed by the government under the Office of the President has begun collecting views from members of the public with a view to making the government press a strategic commercial State Corporation.

The government is seeking to strengthen the mandate of the press by making it the official printer and publisher of the government as well as an advisor to the state on all matters of printing and publishing.

Speaking in Kakamega during the public participation forum for Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga, and Busia counties, a member of the technical committee of the task force, Dr. Eric Aligula, said the government is also seeking to modernise and transform the press into a viable and profit-making corporation.

He said, under the review, the government press will be diversifying its menu and defining its business lines, among them being gazette services, digital printing services, security printing services, and commercial printing services.

“The government press will ensure that these services are delivered in a cost-effective manner and are of high quality,” he added.

“We intend to change the government press from being a resource consumer to a resource generator”, he added.

“The government press is ready to support the government in its traditional roles while capturing a significant portion of the estimated Sh.518 billion in printing and publishing market services, which is growing at between 6 to 10% per annum,” he said.

Dr. Aligula said the government is spending huge resources in foreign exchange to print security documents, among them Kenya National (KNEC) Examinations outside the country, a trend he noted can end if the press is revitalised and modernised.

While supporting the move, stakeholders called on the government to decentralise its services to regional levels.

Philip Ochunge, a retired civil servant, cited cases where some people have fraudulently transferred land through the Kenya Gazette notices that are hardly available to the ordinary citizen.

The participants said if services are brought closer to the people, then the issue of succession will be easily handled.

Evans Sabana called on the government to strengthen the legal framework at the government press so that the integrity of staff is enhanced.

Under the proposed structure, all government entities will be required to prepare printing and publishing activity plans, showing that 40% of that will be delivered or sourced from Medium, Small and Micro-Enterprises (MSME’s).

In addition, a comprehensive government publications library is to be established as the primary source of all current and historical government documents.

Further, the government press will establish a land-based and online (virtual) national printing and publishing museum, providing insights into the evolution and history of printing and publishing, including saving and preserving the existing printing equipment and other materials of historical significance.

The State Corporation is expected to have a board and lean, flat management.

It will also involve the rollout of a well-structured joint venture with a reputable global security printing entity for high-end security press, with the implementation of this process expected to cost an estimated Sh18 billion.

By George Kaiga

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