Sep 22, 2012 News Comments Off on Government reviews buying “pirated” text books
– By Latoya Giles
Government intends to rethink the move to buy reprinted textbooks, according to Head of State Donald Ramotar during a press briefing yesterday afternoon.
The president said that the government is currently looking at the process and is trying to secure an amicable solution.
“We are looking at the process right now and we are trying to get an amicable solution right now…The issue has actively got our attention and we are looking at it” President Ramotar stated. The president further noted that although they are trying to get value for money they are trying to bring the controversy to an end.
The president confirmed that members of his government met with several British diplomats from the British High Commission to discuss the issue. The president said that he cannot go into details but they are all trying to come to end the matter.
The London-based body that represents publishers worldwide last week blasted Guyana’s decision to buy pirated textbooks locally. It described the move as illegal and had threatened legal actions.
Emma House, International and Trade Director of the Publishers Association Limited (PA) said that Guyana’s decision was in direct contravention of the local, regional and international laws.
“The Cabinet’s decision in Guyana to procure pirated textbooks for public schools is an indisputably illegal act. This decision is in contravention of Guyanese law, Caribbean law (CARICOM’s revised Treaty of Chaguaramas) and the International Berne Convention,” PA said in a release.
According to the publishing house “the Guyanese government has not contacted publishers to discuss supply of legitimate books. This makes the government’s claim that this illegal action is justified by concern over price totally redundant and disingenuous, if not hypocritical.”
The real victims of the government’s actions, PA said, are the Guyanese children, who are now being provided with sub-standard resources by the Ministry of Education.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, admitted it was a Cabinet decision to procure pirated textbooks for school. In justifying the decision for pirated books being bought by Government, Dr Luncheon also said that it all had to do with value for money. The Cabinet decision was also based on quality and pricing, he said.
Local book publishers say that the pirated or photocopied textbooks are sold for half and in some cases, for a fraction of the normal price of the originals. Some of the bookstores which hold the distributing rights to textbooks claimed that they were forced to drastically reduce imports in recent years because of the decision by Government.
The piracy issue had seen reports of former Education Minister, Shaik Baksh, denying in 2010 that it was a policy and that he will have to investigate. Last year, explosive revelations by the Auditor General report of 2010 pointed to serious wrongdoings with the procurement of textbooks with millions of dollars paid before the contract was even awarded.
There were indications also that books were ordered by the Ministry of Education and either not delivered and or were short delivered. Earlier this year, a senior official in charge of the department at the Ministry of Education which was tasked with ordering the books was removed. Pirated or photocopied textbooks are openly being sold in a number of city stores. It is a billion dollar business.
Guyana’s copyright laws are outdated and not geared to deal with the current problem it faces and there have been repeated calls for these to be adjusted.
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