The cost of printing school uniform vouchers could have been reduced by about 25% if photos of the President, Prime Minister, Education Minister and State Minister of Education at the back of the vouchers were removed, it was revealed at the Presidential Commission on last Thursday.
General Manager of Printcare Secure Ltd., Ranga Sooriyaarachchi informed the Commission that their company printed over five million school uniform vouchers for 2019 and quoted Rs. 2.09 to print each voucher.
“The size and weight of the voucher are given in the tender document and vouchers were oriented in a special paper including security features,” he said.
The cost of that paper covers at least 80% of the printing of each voucher and he added that they calculate the amount of paper by inches and then convert it into kilograms. "paper mills sell by the weight," he said.
Chairman of the PCoI, retired Supreme Court Judge, Upali Abeyrathne asked the witness whether the size of the voucher could have been reduced if the photos were not included. Witness said that they could have reduced size.
“Therefore the weight can also be reduced?" the Chairman asked.
"Yes," the witness said.
"Therefore could the cost be reduced if the size was smaller?" Abeyrathne asked. The witness affirmed that statement and said that the price could be reduced by about 25%.
It was earlier revealed that the Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariayawasam had instructed the former Secretary to the Ministry of Education, W.M. Bandusena to place photos of the President, Prime Minister, himself and the State Minister at the back of school uniform vouchers in August 2016.
This is the first time that a photo of a politician was inserted into the school uniform distribution process.
This is not the first time that Kariyawasam got his photo printed on items distributed among schoolchildren. The PCoI had earlier investigated an allegation that Kariyawasam’s decision to insert his photo and his signature into school textbooks from 2018 had involved an extra cost. (Yoshitha Perera)