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Court decision paves way for new-look currency

The High Court has allowed the opening of bids by currency printing firms, paving the way for the printing of new-look notes and minting of new coins in compliance with the 2010 Constitution.  PHOTO | FILE | NMG
The High Court has allowed the opening of bids by currency printing firms, paving the way for the printing of new-look notes and minting of new coins in compliance with the 2010 Constitution. PHOTO | FILE | NMG 

The High Court has allowed the opening of bids by currency printing firms, paving the way for the printing of new-look notes and minting of new coins in compliance with the 2010 Constitution.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) had marked today as the deadline for presentation of bids and will open the pitches by firms interested in printing the new look currency.

Justice Enock Chacha Mwita on Tuesday declined to stop the procurement on request by currency printing firm De La Rue Kenya, which claims that the CBK has unfairly locked it out of the battlefield for the multimillion-shilling contract.

The judge held that he cannot stop the process before determining an objection by the CBK to some documents that De La Rue has attached as evidence in its suit.

The CBK has asked the judge to strike out tender documents De La Rue has attached in its suit, arguing that they were obtained illegally, hence cannot be submitted as evidence in the suit.

“The CBK’s application will be the first to be heard on November 30, 2017. I will give directions on conservatory orders after determining the application to strike out some documents,” Justice Mwita said.

Foreign firms

De La Rue claims in its suit that the CBK only prequalified foreign firms, despite provisions in Kenyan procurement laws for giving preference to local companies whenever tenders are up for grabs.

But the CBK insists that De La Rue Kenya did not apply for the tender when it was advertised in 2014, and that the firm cannot be allowed to scuttle the process midway through.

De La Rue also claims that the CBK has omitted from the printing tender provisions of procurement laws which require contracted firms to source at least 40 per cent of materials from local entrepreneurs.

But the CBK holds that it has not flouted any laws, as the specifications it placed for the new notes and coins mean that none of the materials to be used in the printing process are available locally.

“For purposes of ensuring sustainable promotion of local industry, a mandatory requirement as a preliminary evaluation criteria should have been included for all foreign tenderers to source at least 40 per cent of their supplies from citizen contractors prior to submitting their bids,” De La Rue Kenya director Ian Davies says.

Split tender

The banking industry regulator had split the tender for new look currency into two—one for design and another for printing of notes and coins.

De La Rue’s sister company based in the United Kingdom, De La Rue International Limited, was earlier this year contracted to design new look notes that do not bear the image of any individual as provided for in the 2010 Constitution.

The CBK says De La Rue Kenya has failed to disclose to Justice Mwita that it failed to apply for prequalification in 2014.

The CBK adds that its decision to stick to restricted tendering is legal, as the procurement process for new look currency started in 2014, before changes to the law which made open tendering mandatory.

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