Muhoroni Member of Parliament (MP) James Onyango Koyoo has asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to crack the whip on sugar barons regardless of their status, to help resuscitate the sector and end the suffering of farmers.
The MP said sugar barons had taken over the sector bringing in cheap imports at the expense of hard working farmers who were now owed billions of shillings by collapsed State millers.
He said the illegal trade where cheap sugar imported into the country is packaged into bags bearing names of local factories was to blame for the sector’s woes adding that the ongoing crackdown must be extended to restore sugar farming’s past glory.
All State owned millers have closed down just because we allowed well connected millers to set up industries in total disregard of laid down regulations, Kayoo said.
The millers, he added, have no established structures like sugar cane nucleus and ended up poaching sugar cane from public firms at the same time bringing in cheap imports thus killing the sector.
The legislator accused the Ministry of Agriculture of playing lip service to reviewing the sugar act giving the leeway to unscrupulous businessmen to bring in cheap and poisonous sugar at the expense of impoverished farmers.
Every time legislators from sugar growing zones push for a review of the act, we are told that it has been referred back to the Attorney General for consultation and years on we are still facing the same challenges, he lamented.
He said the current purge on illegal sugar imports was welcome, adding that to make it effective, all those implicated must be brought to book.
These people are worse than terrorists because they are killing innocent Kenyans at the same time impoverishing hardworking sugar farmers, he said.
He said there was a ploy to divert the crackdown by implicating that Members of Parliament were involved in the trade urging the government not to relent but press on to ensure that the sector is sanitized.
The MP absolved MP’s from blame, saying that it was not possible for them to trade in such a business worth billions of shillings.
The sugar netted is worth over a billion. Where can an ordinary MP earning about one million shillings obtain two billion shillings to import sugar? he asked.
Speaking at Chemelil roundabout where he distributed bursaries worth Sh.10 million to needy students in the constituency, the MP disclosed that an audit on Muhoroni Sugar Factory which was closed recently was ongoing to unearth the cause of the firm’s woes.
We don’t understand how farmers supply sugar, it is milled, packaged and sold yet they are not paid. Where does the money go? he questioned.
Muhoroni was closed after Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) froze all the firm’s accounts to recover tax arrears accumulated over years.
Koyoo said after the audit sanctioned by the national government is through, a caretaker committee comprising of experts from other thriving sugar factories and the locals shall take over the management of the factory.
He said the reopening of the factory was on course urging farmers and members of staff who were owed money to be patient.
On cross border peace, the MP cautioned leaders against igniting debate that was likely to bring communities along the Nandi, Kisumu, Vihiga and Kericho borders to war.
Reacting to recent remarks made by Nandi County Governor, Steven Sang on reviewing the common border with Kisumu, the MP said the move was politically instigated and must be shunned to enhance cohesion between the two communities.
We have recognized the importance of peace after the handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga and we are fully behind it. Let us not allow individuals pursuing self-interest to cause tension amongst us, he said.
He asked Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i to be on the lookout and bring to book any person out to disrupt peace in the area.
Source: Kenya News Agency