State scales down on LPG budget spend

Technical officer at energy regulatory commission, Silas Sanga shows gas cylinders which were impounded at ayard in Changamwe, Mombasa county. [Photo Omondi Onyango/Standard]

The Government cannot afford to buy gas cylinders for one million poor households, and will instead subsidise only a third of the cooking gas cylinders this financial year.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mining said yesterday it will only issue 300,000 households with the cylinders following budget cuts. This is even as the low-income earners grapple with the rising cost of kerosene and charcoal.

The project, which aims at distributing close to four million households with six-kilogramme cylinders fitted with burners and gills, is also facing further delays.

Initially set to start in May this year, it was pushed to August. Now, the Ministry said it will start implementation later this month.

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Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau said the project will have procured the first batch of 300,000-6kg cylinders by March next year and distribute them by June 30 next year. “We will start the registration of people who will benefit from the project by September 17,” he said.

The PS noted that the project had been scaled down, saying the Government will instead distribute only 300,0000 due to a cut in the project’s budget. About a million cylinders would have been distributed this year alone.

The project had initially been allocated Sh3.1 billion that would have seen the one million households benefit from the project but PS Kamau said this has been slashed to Sh1.2 billion.

Market rates

The households who are shortlisted to benefit from the project will pay Sh2,000, which is more than a 50 per cent discount for the gas cylinder, burner, and grill against the market rates of about Sh5,000.

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The project aimed at increasing usage of cooking gas in the country was meant to replace the troublesome kerosene and firewood in the kitchens of many Kenyans. It would have come in handy as most Kenyans grapple with the high cost of kerosene and charcoal.

The price of charcoal has almost doubled over the last year after the Government banned logging in February this year. This was aimed at saving the forest cover in the country.

Kerosene prices have also risen owing to a surge in the prices of crude oil as well as an increase in taxes. This is as the State fights adulteration of other fuels.

However, the cooking gas cylinder project will have to wait until tendering is done mid this month.

The project was started last year through pilots in Kajiado and Machakos counties, with the full implementation expected to be rolled out earlier this year.

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It was however stopped following challenges cited by National Oil Corporation that included beneficiaries taking more than the stipulated one cylinder per household.

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GovernmentMinistry of Petroleum and MiningPetroleum Principal SecretaryAndrew KamauMwananchi Gas Project