Millers took advantage of a duty-free window to import maize, which they later irregularly sold to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), senators have been told.
Julius Musyoki, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) commissioner in charge of Customs and Border Control, yesterday said the millers made a kill after they sold the bulk of the commodity they imported to NCPB.
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Mr Musyoki, who made submissions before the select committee investigating the maize crisis, revealed that 1,734,487 tonnes of maize was shipped into the country during the duty free window, according to the gazette notice published on April 13, last year.
The KRA official said statistics showed 86 per cent (1,491,659 tonnes) of white maize was imported before the July 31, deadline. Another 242,828 tonnes of yellow maize was also imported.
“From KRA’s correspondence with the different importers and NCPB, it was established that most of the maize that was imported by different importers was sold to the Ministry of Agriculture through NCPB,” said Musyoki.
This means local farmers were edged out by 10 firms, which bought maize from both the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and other regions.
Maize from Mexico
“The Ministry of Agriculture, through NCPB, between May and October last year, bought a total of 650,191 tonnes of maize from the importers,” he told the committee chaired by Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula.
The bulk of white maize originated from Mexico, South Africa and United States of America.
Some 1,398,095 tonnes came from Mexico, 248,957 tonnes from South Africa and 7,166 tonnes from the US.
Other countries were Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Ukraine was the largest source of yellow maize (111,512 tonnes), followed by Russia (37,050 tonnes).
Wetang’ula, Michael Mbito (Trans-Nzoia), Okong’o Omogeni (Kisii) and Mary Seneta (nominated) demanded to know the millers who imported the cereals.
“We want data of each of the 15 companies that were involved in the importation. We also want to see the paperwork of the firms,” said Wetang’ula.
The team gave Musyoki two weeks to provide the information.