By David Ochami
The firm said there are other countries willing to sign long-term investment deals with it. "This cannot go on forever and decisions have to be made," Robert Hutchison, the Group director at De La Rue, said in Nairobi on Wednesday. He was referring to stalled joint venture talk days after the firm faced criticism over its local operations.
Hutchison denied being privy to negotiations that began in 2007, adding the firm agreed to remain in Kenya after cancellation of its ten year contract in the "interest of long term" relations.
He said the discussions ought to be concluded. "That question is best answered by the Kenya Government."
Currency printing accounts for between 50 to 60 per cent of De La Rueâs operations. It also prints cheques for commercial banks and passports. De La Rue says it ploughs a billion shillings into the local economy every year.
The firmâs dealings with the Finance ministry is under investigation by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) where former Finance ministers Amos Kimunya, David Mwiraria and former Central Bank of Kenya deputy Governor Jacinta Mwatela are to testify.
De La Rue claimed it has been a victim of bad publicity following revelations by PAC that Central Bank would single source its services at an extra Sh2 billion in a new contract.
Mark Crickett, De La Rueâs commercial leader in charge of the proposed Joint Venture, said PAC made erroneous comparisons of printing costs to arrive at Sh2 billion, adding that the costs of printing old generation notes were lower compared to new ones with enhanced security features.
He said the cost of printing notes ought to be compared internationally. "Comparison has to be done with considerable caution," he said.