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26.10.2005 General News

Publishers Controversy Deepens

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The Ghana Book Publishers Association (GBPA) has called for an independent enquiry into the Ministry of Education and Sports' (MOES) contract with Macmillan Educational UK Limited worth US$27,999,990.00.
Mr. Elliot Agyare, President of GBPA said yesterday in Accra at a press conference that "We want an enquiry into how the contract came to be agreed and signed without following the textbook policy document, the internal MOES procurement process and the Procurement Act."
The objective of the textbook policy, he explained, is to ensure the development, selection and provision of good quality textbooks, teacher's guides and supplementary reading books for the basic level for the promotion of effective teaching and learning in schools.
The president of GBPA said the association is opposing the agreement because "the contract is not in the interest of the children and people of Ghana, as it does not give them the variety that such a book procurement process worth this amount should achieve."
The contract, he complained, is an attempt to avoid free and fair competition between Macmillan and the local book industry, which would lead to "abnormal profit" for Macmillan Education.
He challenged the use of prices from other publishers to justify the claim that Macmillan is the most competitive because other members of the association had all come out to categorically deny submitting samples and quotes.
"The claim that the Ministry and its agency, the Ghana Education Service are both convinced that Macmillan's books are most suitable for our students because it has the Ghanaian and African child in mind is a serious affront to the whole local book industry" Mr Agyare stressed.
He stated that the local industry has also developed good quality supplementary readers in fulfillment of the requirement of the Textbook Policy. These books, he said, have the cultural relevance for Ghana and Africa. "It is irresponsible to denigrate the local industry to justify a preconceived action without giving the local industry a chance...We want to find out from the MOES the basis of the urgency, the economy and the suitability that led to this unfortunate agreement."
He said the association demands that the contract be abrogated with immediate effect and money applied to the current process of acquiring supplementary readers for the schools in a fair, transparent and competitive process.
Those public officials who willfully conducted themselves in a manner that sought to mislead other public officials and institutions should be sanctioned, he recommended. He said the association has written to the Ministry of Education and Sports but no response had so far been received.

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