Leaders poke holes on sugar miller privatization plan

Leaders and cane farmers in Migori want the government to shelve plans to privatize South Nyanza Sugar Company (Sony) claiming the miller was performing, despite experiencing some challenges.

They said listing the company among five sugar millers earmarked for privatization was hurriedly done and without prior assessment.

Speaking during a meeting convened by Privatization Commission at Sony Guest House, the farmers expressed fears that privatization of the giant Sugar miller will lead to massive loss of jobs.

A cane farmer from Uriri constituency Ben Okello told members of the Commission that farmers can manage the company and pay pending debts if the current debt portfolio was waived by the government.

He claimed that the government was allowing importation of cheap sugar, a situation he said was ‘hurting the local sugar millers’.

Susan Owino, another farmer from Awendo regretted the proposal by the Privatisation commission to have 24 percent shares sold to the farmers and employees, terming it ‘malicious.’

Further, six Migori Members of Parliament present at the meeting poked holes at the proposal to privatize Sony saying they had earlier warned the Commission that their push won’t succeed.

Uriri Member of Parliament Mark Nyamita faulted the Commission for ignoring the concerns of the leaders from sugar regions during previous meetings.

We had earlier advised the Privatisation Commission to disregard privatization proposal and address challenges facing the ailing sugar millers, Nyamita said.

Nyamita however challenged the government to waive debt owned by Sony, which is close to Sh 1 billion, the way it had previously done to Mumias Sugar Company.

The MP further proposed Sh 2 billion to be injected to the company by the government, the money which will help upgrade the company.

Kuria East Member of Parliament Marwa Kitayama wondered how S00, 000 cost of one acre land in Sony was reached in proposed privatization plan.

On his part, Privatisation Commission chairman Henry Obwocha said the aim of the meeting was for them to listen to the views of farmers and leaders from the sugar regions and propose best ways of managing and modernizing sugar millers.

Source: Kenya News Agency