DP blames salary delays on debts

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua during Easter Sunday Church Service in Ngorano PCEA in Mathira Constituency. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Civil servants and county staff will have to wait a little longer following the decision by the government to prioritise the repayment of a foreign debt before looking into their welfare.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua revealed that the debt inherited from the previous regime had matured, and called for urgent intervention. "I must admit that we have had delays in remittances to the counties and salaries to our Staff. However, one of the debts we inherited, had matured, and we had to pay," he said.

He said the government had no choice but to pay up but was optimistic the salaries would be disbursed this coming week. Speaking during Easter Sunday Church Service in Ngorano PCEA in Mathira Constituency, he blamed the current cash crunch facing the government on the debt burden inherited from the previous administration.

"The problems started when the previous administration agreed to a handshake between them and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, there were no checks and balances on the excesses of the government, and they borrowed excessively," he said.

Handshake agreement

He noted that is the reason he would never allow for a handshake agreement with Mr Raila. "I have no problem with Azimio or Odinga, but oppose a handshake and dealing with him is my business. It is my job to ensure President William Ruto is given time and freedom to work hassle-free," he said.

"We cannot discuss with a person who has refused to recognise the legitimacy of our government. He must first publicly declare that President Ruto is the duly elected Head of State."

The DP was accompanied by several leaders from Nyeri, including Governor Mutahi Kahiga, Nyeri Speaker Gichuhi Mwangi Senator Wahome Wamatinga, and MPs John Kaguchia (Mukurweini) Wambugu Wainaina (Othaya) Geoffrey Wandeto (Tetu) and Eric Wamumbi (Mathira).

DP Gachagua, who spent his Easter Weekend within Mathira Constituency, also visited local farms and his relatives accompanied by his wife Dorcas Rigathi.

He said the government will convene a stakeholder conference on the implementation of coffee reforms in two weeks.

Speaking when he engaged coffee farmers, Mr Gachagua said the conference will be to firm up proposed reforms in the subsector.

The conference will bring together representatives of farmers from coffee-growing counties, governors and lawmakers, Cabinet Secretaries for Trade, Agriculture, Cooperatives and members of the Coffee Exchange and Coffee Directorate among other relevant agencies.

"The purpose is to agree on what needs to be done and the MPs and Senators will take it from there and come up with regulations and legislations to cushion farmers from middlemen," the Deputy President said.

Mr Gachagua said his visit was aimed at getting first-hand information on the challenges they were facing. "We are visiting farmers to understand what ails the sector. There is less production because farmers are less motivated because of poor prices and exploitation by cartels," he said.

Revival initiatives

Mr Gachagua said farmers will begin enjoying better returns once the revival initiatives take root. "We must restore the glory of the coffee farmer. Personally, I was educated from proceeds from coffee. In the 1970s and 1980s, this crop had a lot of credibility," he stated.

The Deputy President also visited a host of farmers at Ragati Tea Factory in Mathira and assured them that plans are underway for another conference for stakeholders in the tea sub-sector.

"We will continue with these engagements and shortly, we will organise another conference where we will discuss matters of tea and be able to add value for increased productivity and better returns for our farmers," he added.

The conference is to enrich discussions on reforms in the sub-sector at Parliament, and other avenues, including his office. He challenged the Kenya Tea Development Agency to explore ways to process orthodox tea that he says fetches better prices globally.

He said the challenges facing tea marketers in Pakistan had been solved following a visit by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi.

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