British security printing firm De La Rue International will retain the Sh10 billion-a-year tender to print Kenya’s new-look currency after the Court of Appeal reversed High Court decision that nullified the award.
The judges noted that the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) acted within the law when it gave De La Rue International 15 percent preferential treatment and rejected the notion that the regulator colluded with the British firm.
High Court Judge George Odunga had ordered the CBK to re-evaluate the tender on the grounds that the 15 percent preferential treatment was conferred contrary to procurement law since the firm is not a Kenyan owned entity, prompting De La Rue and the CBK to file the appeal.
“On the whole, the appeal succeeds. The Judgment and Decree of the High Court in petition Number No. 597 of 2017 dated 9th April 2018 is hereby set aside and substituted with an order dismissing the said petition with no order as to costs in respect of the proceedings both in the High Court and in this Court,” ordered the judges. Justices Erastus Githinji, Asike Makhandia, and Ole Kantai further faulted the High Court judge for relying his decision on expunged documents that he had earlier found to have been procured unprocedurally.
The judges were referring to tender documents filed as evidence by the petitioner, activist Okiya Omtata, but which was contested as illegally procured. Mr Omtatah had moved to court against the award of the multi-billion shilling contract, arguing that De La Rue did not qualify for the 15 percent margin of preference because it is not a preferred supplier under Kenyan law.
Court of Appeal noted that De La Rue applied for preferential margin on the basis that it was the only candidate with locally registered and established affiliates, De La Rue Currency & Security Print Ltd.
The Judges said that De La Rue was the only one of the four bidders that could qualify for the preferential margin as envisaged under procurement law “by any stretch of imagination”.
That qualification was met upon confirmation by the procuring entity that sub-contracting was allowed and further upon application for the preferential margin under Procurement Act based on its local affiliates. The ruling clears way for the De La Rue to start printing of Kenya’s new-look currency as envisioned in the 2010 Constitution.
De La Rue has had a stranglehold on Kenya’s money printing business except for the period between 1966 and 1985 when another UK firm, Bradbury Wilkinson, did the job. De La Rue yesterday said it is expanding its Kenya based facility to become a regional hub for East Africa.