Government Ministries rack up printing debts

The Government printing services division run by the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development is still having a hard time chasing down debt from other ministries.

In its latest annual report, the Ministry's Printing Services reveal that the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance owe the most money to the division.

In total, four per cent of invoices were not collected in the 2018–2019 financial year, the report states.

“Despite the various approaches (email, phone calls and visits) employed, most debtors were unresponsive limiting any practical hopes to increase debt recovery particularly from line ministries such as the Ministry of the Prime Minister & Cabinet (M.P.M.C.) and Ministry of Finance (M.O.F.) which have had the highest amount of outstanding debt.”

The report does not specify how much the two ministries owe, but says the total outstanding debt from all debtors adds up to $22,540. 

Despite this, it was a banner year for the small printing operation. It beat its estimated production value by nearly $200,000, earning $583,571 for its efforts instead of the estimated $400,000.

It is a huge step up: according to the 2016–2017 annual report, revenue was just $180,862. The 2017-2018 report is not available.

The Ministry had also targeted being able to collect at least 70 per cent of its invoices, so its 96 per cent collection rate will be of relief to the management. 

However, that four per cent left behind is a niggling challenge, the report says, indicating some of the debt may even be older than a year.

“A major challenge faced by the printing services this year was the collection of outstanding debts relating to previous years for which staff continued strict and constant follow up actions to settle outstanding debts. 

“It is important to note that the debt recovery exercise also extended to cover unpaid orders from private and individual customers, to ensure all outstanding debts are recovered.”

Debt recovery is an ongoing issue. In the 2016-2017 report, the Ministry said the printing division intends to “enhance” debt recovery methods to deal with it.

“In efforts to address its recurring costs recovery challenges, the Division for Printing looks to enhance its debt recovery methods, improve staff capacity and change appropriate enabler, to sustain economies of scale and efficient resources allocation, strengthen internal controls and improving its marketing strategies to positively complement its pressures to provide affordable printing.”

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