Safeguard public interest in Kenya-Uganda deals
Kenya and Uganda are said to have inked a number of deals.Some observers have questioned the deals, while others have welcomed them. In a highly political environment as Kenya’s, the disagreement is expected. But did Kenya get a raw or hot deal from the number of economic pacts that President Uhuru Kenyatta signed with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni during the latter’s three-day visit? The jury is still out there. However, it is high time some of these deals were subjected to scrutiny to ascertain their benefits before they are implemented. Parliament might be called upon to comb through these deals, just as they do with a number of policies. It is not the first time President Kenyatta has signed a trade pact. For the last five years, Kenyans have been treated to a series of pompous pact-signing ceremonies between Kenyatta and a host of other heads of states. Mind-boggling figures, enough to transform the country into a middle income economy in flash, have been quoted. Yet, to most Kenyans these benefits have barely been felt. Desperation to get some projects finished, such as connecting Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), should not be reason enough for us to sacrifice prudence when entering into international contracts. Funding for the completion of Phase 2 of the SGR from Naivasha to Kisumu had reportedly been locked until Uganda’s assurance that it would terminate its SGR to Kenya’s border was obtained. President Kenyatta might have succeeded in convincing Kampala to extend their SGR to Malaba, but this might have come at a high cost. In return, President Kenyatta offered the Ugandan President land in Naivasha to build a dry port, conceded to allow a tripling of sugar imports from 36,000 tonnes to 90,000 tonnes and resumption of poultry imports that had been halted over concerns of avian flu. He also promised follow-up talks that would eventually see Ugandan dairy farmers allowed to export more produce to Kenya with less paperwork and have Kenya buy pharmaceuticals from Uganda. Uganda would for its part lift the ban on Kenyan beef, also blocked over mad cow disease, which is currently only a Sh370 million trade, and halt charging duty on fruit juices.
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