Barasa sets conditions to support Sarrai to run Mumias Sugar Company

Mumias Sugar Company. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Governors have been urged to fast-track audit of pending bills owed to contractors and suppliers.

The Council of Governors (COG) Finance Committee Chair and Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa appealed to contractors and suppliers to be patient as the counties work to clear the pending bills.

“As of September 30 last year counties had pending bills amounting to almost Sh165 billion and the direction we gave is that any inherited pending bills must be audited and verified and the process is ongoing,” Barasa said.

Barasa was speaking during church service at Mumias town Deliverance church where he regretted that delayed disbursement of equitable share has adversely affected county operations.

“In Kakamega county, I inherited pending bills totaling Sh1.4 billion but so far we have paid Sh800 million as the verification process continues. Once the bills have been settled then economic activities will increase in our areas,” he said.

The governor said this has been made possible through the implementation of a policy that ensures pending bills worth Sh200 million are settled every month.

On the reopening of Mumias Sugar Company, Barasa revealed that leaders from the region plan to meet with Sarrai Group management to audit the deliverables at the miller.

“We want to know the plan on revival and revitalization; programmes to ensure cane development, sugarcane planted in the nucleus, payment, and employment of staff. Therefore this meeting will culminate into our next step of action for the company,” he said.

Last week Barasa set out three conditions to the investor before he supports the miller's operations.

The governor said that he would only support the investor if he came up with a farmer payment policy, workers' payment policy and a cane development programme.

He maintained that he has no specific and favorable investor in mind but he will fully support an investor who will meet the above conditions that are geared towards ensuring availability of adequate cane to sustain the operations of Mumias Sugar Company.

“I do not have a specific investor in mind, what I am looking for is that when farmers deliver their sugarcane they have to be paid on time with no arrears, another issue is that the investor must have a specific program where workers are paid and of course, the investor should have a clear and specific cane development programme that will address the issue of cane availability,” said Barasa.

“Whoever will meet the issue of cane development, timely payment to farmers and workers and largely the investor has to absorb the former workers who have experience and expertise where they have to be given priority during employment, then I will have no problem and whoever will pass the three aspects I assure him my full support,” he said.

Mumias Sugar's woes began in the 2012/2013 financial year when it started recording net losses before collapsing by the end of 2018 having incurred losses amounting to Sh39.44 billion.

As of June 2018, the company's borrowing, principal loans, and interests from in and out of government stood at Sh12.59 billion.

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