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Kenya government blamed for cotton agency’s property woes

NEWS
By By WINSLEY MASESE | Oct 23rd 2013 | 3 min read
By By WINSLEY MASESE | October 23rd 2013
NEWS

By WINSLEY MASESE

Civil servants are some of the tenants occupying properties owned by the Cotton Development Authority (Coda).

Coda Chief Executive Anthony Muriithi told the Parliamentary Investment Committee (PIC) that an employee of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) and National Bank of Kenya (NBK) are among government officers who despite staying in their premises do not pay rent.

“We do not get rent from the servants and neither do we get it from the private developer, who operates a driving school in Masii,” he said.

Muriithi cited lack of a transitional framework between the previous authority, Cotton Board of Kenya and Coda as reason for their woes. Some of the properties include a three bedroomed house in Milimani Estate in Busia and a two bedroomed house in Diani at the Coast.

This is, however, made worse by Muriithi’s admission that Coda does not have the titles to prove which property it owns.

“A number of documents got lost when the authority was evicted from Uchumi House for failure to pay its rent,” he said.

An Assistant Director in the Ministry of Agriculture Eliud Mathu said that the authority should not take over the properties as some of them are in private use.

“When the Cotton Board of Kenya went under, we couldn’t afford to look for the assets, and some of them went to waste,” he said.

The committee, chaired by PIC Vice-Chairman Kimani Ichung’wa said that the omission of the transition clause was deliberate to offer opportunity to some corrupt individuals to grab properties.

List of liabilities

However, members read mischief when the Coda chief and a representative of the ministry of Agriculture said that they have a comprehensive list of liabilities.

Kisumu West MP Olago Aluoch, however, insisted that the ministry has the legal and moral responsibility to protect the authority’s properties even without amending the Bill to give it more powers.

However, the members were irked when the authority indicated that some of the properties are condemned or dilapidated, which means that they will likely be sold at a throw away price.

Muriithi said that the authority does not know who is occupying the properties, raising fears that the properties might have been transferred or grabbed.

However, the members questioned the completeness of the liabilities section, indicating that the authority has liabilities worth 22.8 million.  The Office of the Auditor General, however, said that the last time the authority submitted their books of accounts was during the 1992/1993 financial year in which its assets were valued at Sh210 million.

The committee gave the authority and ministry of Agriculture officials three-weeks to prepare a comprehensive report and demanded that the Principal Secretary in the ministry of Agriculture appear in person.

The Cotton Development Authority (Coda) is a regulatory state corporation under the ministry of Agriculture established under Section 4 of the Cotton (Amendment) Act 2006. The role of the Authority is to promote, coordinate, monitor, regulate and direct the cotton industry in the country and ensure that the sector is up once again.

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