Gov’t seeking more textbook funds after deal with publishers
The government yesterday welcomed a deal with book publishers to procure original textbooks but announced that it will have to go back to the National Assembly to get approval for more money to buy additional supplies.
“Even with the concessionary prices… it still exceeds the unit cost of a photocopied version. We should expect… a foray to the budget to get additional funding to increase spending in the social sector were we to maintain the same level of coverage,” said Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday.
“Even with the most generous price-cutting concessions by publishers and others…we cannot procure the same volume and as a consequence will be going to the budget… the National Assembly for ramping up social expenditure, social sector expenditure, to maintain the same level of coverage in the educational sector in as so far as textbooks is required,” Luncheon reiterated.
He was at the time informing of governments move to procure primary and secondary textbooks at some US$300,083 or $74,600,000. Further, Luncheon said that cabinet offered no objection to $30.6M, $60.42M and $29.12M, respectively, for the supply and delivery of reading books and technical school supplies, bringing the total for school materials in the public school system to $194,740,000.
This will not be the only award for textbooks. “That… is merely one of the many procurement for textbooks,” Luncheon went on to say.
Lloyd Austin, who is an agent for some of the publishers, said that while he knows that Royards had met with officials and gave a price quote, he was sure that company has not heard from government of their decision.
In September, the Publishers Association took to the High Court and obtained an injunction against five stores blocking the sale of photocopies of their respective texts. The move came after tenders were opened for the supply of pirated copies of texts to the Ministry of Education for its book distribution programme, for which government had pre-selected seven companies to bid to supply photocopied texts.
The government’s declaration that it was pursuing contracts for the pirating of textbooks for public school students triggered public concern. “You could be a publisher with a copyright and you could offer to sell me the book for $1. My friend is a good photocopy artist and he could sell me the book for 10 cents. All of you are going to bid but who do you think is going to get it?” Luncheon had said.
President Donald Ramotar later said, “We are looking at that [the situation] right now. I am hoping to have an amicable solution to that matter, while at the same time we are trying to get value for money and ensure our kids have books and so forth.”