Treasury blamed for sugar imports
The National Treasury has been blamed for the unregulated duty-free sugar imports that are now being investigated.
Leaked correspondence at the time the Treasury opened the duty-free window between May 12 and August 31 last year show that the Ministry of Industrialisation protested that “in future, wider consultations should be done to ensure coherent and coordinated actions by all ministries”.
The communication indicates that the Industrialisation ministry was concerned that the floodgates the Treasury had opened for importers was open to abuse by unscrupulous businessmen and hence defeat its purpose as farmers and millers would not be protected.
The situation had been triggered by protests that Kenya had surpassed the regulations of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
A letter from Comesa dated May 22 last year poked holes into Kenya Gazette Notice No. 4536 of May 12, 2017, that lifted duty on sugar imports between May 12 and August 31, 2017.
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Comesa noted that Kenya had flouted the 2015 decision made during the group’s 35th meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, dictating that the precise deficit should be shared among the member states on an agreed formula.
“In order not to disadvantage the Comesa member states, we kindly request that the sugar deficit for 2017 be reviewed with a view to increasing the amount of sugar that Kenya can import from within the Comesa region,”Kipyego Cheluget, Comesa’s assistant secretary-general in charge of programmes, wrote.
But Kenya defended its decision to import sugar from non-Comesa member states, saying “traditional suppliers of sugar from the Comesa region also experienced shortage of the commodity”.
Firm paid Sony Sh82m to bring in sugar
In the attached letter dated May 25, 2017, addressed to the Comesa secretariat (upon approval by the PSs in the National Treasury and State Department of Agriculture, Kamau Thugge and Richard Lesiyampe respectively), the PS in the Department of Trade, Chris Kiptoo, said the Gazette notice would be corrected.
Significantly, a letter dated May 26, 2017, by Mr Kiptoo to Dr Thugge and Dr Lesiyampe, which he wrote upon receiving the letter from Comesa insinuates that Kenya was aware of acting with impunity regarding the sugar importation.