How Uhuru plans to put cash in farmers’ pockets
Government officialsUkur Yatani was confirmed as the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary even as Mwangi Kiunjuri, until yesterday in the morning the CS for Agriculture, was given the boot. Towards the end of last year, the president tasked high-ranking government officials to end a cash crisis that has snuffed life out of several businesses and left scores jobless. Kenyatta noted his government had cleared almost 70 per cent of the verified pending bills. As of December 31, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) had paid Sh10.2 billion out of Sh14.9 billion of validated pending bills. Counties had paid Sh28.6 billion as of December 18, last year. The government will also float a Sh150 billion bond, debt, through which it will pay bills related to infrastructure as the government continues its quest to build roads, bridges, railways and ports. Small businesses which ply their trade in the ubiquitous informal sector, including jua-kali artisans and mama mboga, will occupy a special place in Kenyatta’s strategy for the next 12 months.
SEE ALSO :Renewables top 90pc of Kenya’s powerThe head of state regretted that due to poor corporate governance, rather than farmers earning about Sh91 per kilo for their tea, they are “currently earning about Sh41, with Sh50 shillings per kilo going to brokers and middle men.” He thus directed the Agriculture ministry to implement Tea Regulations 2019 which will ensure anyone who is not a registered tea grower, is not allowed to sell the produce. KTDA has also been asked to think of a system that will see farmers paid not less than half of their deliveries as monthly payments. The balance can be paid as annual bonus. Such a system has already been implemented in the coffee sector through the roll-out of the Sh3 billion Coffee Cherry Revolving Fund. Through the Fund, the Ministry of Industrialisation will advance cheap credit to small scale coffee farmers to boost production and quality of the crop. Farmers affiliated to different cooperatives including Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) will receive loans at a rate of three per cent. The amount that each farmer can access will depend on the amount of the coffee that they can produce.
SEE ALSO :It pays to put cash in empowering people“A member of a registered co-operative society or a smallholder estate affiliated to New Kenya Planters Co-operative Union shall be advanced forty per-cent of the prevailing average sales price at the Coffee Exchange; Sh20 per kilogramme of cherry delivered and forty per-cent of the payment rate to members by a co-operative society for the immediate past crop year,” reads the regulations in part. On tea, the president directed the National Treasury, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Attorney General to finalise and gazette the newly developed Tea Regulations (2019) within the next two weeks. This would help with value-addition. Milk farmers that have been getting poor returns against their high yields might have a reason to smile if the president follows through his proposals. With dairy producers in areas like Nyandarua being forced to pour out their milk following a glut, the president has directed the National Treasury to release Sh500 million to the new KCC to purchase excess milk from farmers to convert it into powder milk for future use. Moreover, another Sh575 million will be given to new KCC for set up of two milk plants- one in Nyeri and another in Nyahururu. This is aimed at enhancing their processing capacity. Meanwhile, milk products from outside of East African Community will be slapped with a 16 per cent of value-added tax (VAT) unlike the local milk which does not attract any tax. Potato, banana and rice farmers in Nyandarua, Meru and Kisii will benefit from Sh300 million funds that will be used for the construction of cold storage facilities. National Treasury has also been asked to release Sh660 million to the Kenya National Trading Corporation to purchase all the excess rice from Kano Plains and Mwea for onward selling to the country/’s disciplined forces, prisons services as well as boarding schools. Content Service Providers who work with digital platforms such as Skiza and Viusasa, will be eliminated in what is aimed at unlocking royalties to entertainment artists. “To receive royalties, Content Service Providers will be required to channel all payments of royalties through a single, centrally managed account at the Kenya Copyright Board,” said the president.
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