Pakistan faces challenge as publishers in KP link schoolbook printing to payment of Rs4bn dues

Pakistan. Photo Courtesy: Unsplash

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IBNS: Pakistan faces challenge in its Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region after private publishers refused to print textbooks for public sector schools until the payment of Rs4 billion dues by the provincial textbook board, media reports said.

The development has prompted the textbook board to extend the bidding date for supplying books from Oct 26 to Nov 7, according to official documents as quoted by Dawn News.

The KP Textbook Board had announced tenders on Oct 7 for the procurement of school books for the next academic year 2024-25 seeking applications by Oct 26.

Private publishers didn’t attend the Oct 19 ‘pre-bid’ meeting with board officials causing fears of delay in the provision of books to students in the next academic year slated to begin next April, the newspaper reported.

“We will print books only if the government clears our Rs4 billion dues from last year as well as releases half of the payments required printing books for next year to the textbook board,” the owner of a printing company told Dawn on condition of anonymity.

He said that last year, publishers printed Rs10 billion books but the government paid them just Rs6 billion and that, too, after repeated requests.

“We [printers] have formally requested the provincial ombudsperson to help us receive Rs4 billion dues,” he said.

Official sources told Dawn that a pre-tendering meeting between board officials and prospective bidders was called to sort out “issues” but that didn’t take place due to the refusal of the latter to show up.