KTDA directors defend 2019 bonus payment

KTDA official Francis Macharia addresses a meeting at Kenol Market where tea factory directors met to deliberate on criticism made following reduced 2019 bonus payment. [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]
Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factory directors have taken issue with Governor Mwangi wa Iria's administration for moving to court to challenge this year's tea bonus.

This follows Monday's court ruling that ordered an audit of tea factories in the county.

Wa Iria moved to court on Monday morning seeking orders that the Office of the Auditor General or any other reputable firm be allowed to audit all tea factory accounts between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019.

Wa Iria argued that mismanagement in the factories might have led to this year's low bonus payments.

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In the suit, the county cited the reduced annual bonus payment of Sh8.9 billion, down from Sh11.2 billion last year. High Court Judge Kanyi Kimondo granted the orders.

But the KTDA directors, at a meeting at the Kenol market in Murang’a, defended this year's bonus payments, saying the factories were not to blame.

They said the low prices were a result of political and economic crises in Sudan, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan, which are Kenya's major tea markets.

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“The cause of low bonus payment should be blamed on the international market, and not be attributed to factories. In the past four years, the same directors have presided over better bonus payments,” they said.

Political interference

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The directors added that statements of accounts for the year have been published, and are ready to be distributed to farmers in KTDAs 69 factories at AGMs.

They further cautioned against political interference in the tea sector, and denied claims that some farmers were uprooting the crop to protest against poor payments.

“If the trend is allowed, our politicians will be behind the downfall of the sector, similar to what happened to Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU),” they said.

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KTDAGovernor Mwangi wa IriaReduced tea bonus