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Government to write off Sh89 billion sugar factories debts

By John Shilitsa | Published Sun, March 4th 2018 at 00:00, Updated March 3rd 2018 at 20:59 GMT +3
Deputy President William Ruto with leaders from Western during homecoming function of Cabinet Secretary Sports and Heritage, Rashid Mohammed at Mumias Sports Complex yesterday. [photo/ BENJAMIN SAKWA]

Deputy President William Ruto has announced the Government's plan to write off Sh89 billion owed by sugar factories.

He said the decision to write off debt is part of an arrangement to fix problems ailing the sugar sub-sector.

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Speaking during a home coming party for Sports and Heritage CS Rashid Echesa at Mumias Sports Complex yesterday, the DP regretted that State-owned sugar milling firms continue to struggle compared to private millers.

“We have discussed problems facing the sugar industry, the only option is to write off the debts,” he said.

Ruto declared that no further funds would be given out to Mumias Sugar Company (MSC) for the ailing sugar factory’s bailout.

“The Government has injected Sh4 billion in MSC but the money appears to have gone to waste; we cannot continue ploughing funds into the milling firm until we have a turnaround plan for the company,” he said.

Economic mainstay

He was reacting to calls on the Government by Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Busia Senator Amos Wako and several legislators present who said the Jubilee administration must prioritise reviving the sugar miller, which is the economic mainstay for locals.

Wako challenged the government to release Sh15 billion at once to clear debts owed to creditors by MSC.

“Mumias requires Sh10 billion to clear debts and another Sh5.6 billion to address other key areas for it to be revived,” he said.

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Oparanya argued that there was no point giving piecemeal cash to the company when the Government could release the amount required to give it a new lease of life all at once.

On politics, Ruto dismissed calls to change the constitution to introduce new positions such as a powerful Prime Minister and ceremonial President.

“Kenyans voted for us and they expect us to embark on nation building. We must stop politicking until the right time,” he said.

He said NASA must recognise Jubilee and stop deceiving Kenyans that another election would be held anytime soon.

“There is no point in saying we shall have another election when in real sense electioneering period has ended,” he said.

Ruto said the Jubilee administration was ready to work with all leaders irrespective of their political affiliation or tribe.

House majority leader Aden Duale warned Jubilee rebel politicians of dire consequences.  “We dealt with some in Parliament and we are ready to deal with them in case they attempt to attack the DP who is our captain,” he said in reference to Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and other rebel MPs whose victories were recently annulled by court.

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A host of legislators from Western and four Cabinet Secretaries accompanied the DP. Also present was Senate House Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.

Mr Echesa warned Western politicians against forwarding their grievances to the President and his deputy without passing through him.

“I am the Government’s point man and you should learn to follow protocol by going through me to reach the Head of State and DP,” he said.

Jubilee leaders took the opportunity to woo Governor Oparanya to their side. However, Oparanya declared that he would run for President in 2022, telling Ruto to brace himself for competition.