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Members of Parliament, State to discuss sugar safeguards

COUNTIES
By - GEOFFREY MOSOKU | Jul 12th 2013 | 2 min read

By GEOFFREY MOSOKU

Kenya is facing a crisis in the sugar industry as a deadline to implement key reforms in the sector that include privatisation of five factories nears.

Already, Parliament has begun investigating delays into the privatisation of the sugar industry ahead of the March 2014 deadline of implementing key reforms.

This is after it emerged a two-year extension of sugar import safeguards from the regional trading bloc, Comesa, given to Kenya in 2011 is expiring in seven months yet there are no signs the reforms will be achieved before then. This was the second extension after a similar one in 2004.

MPs seek to know, from the Government, whether the process can be concluded in the seven-month period. Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture has consequently, summoned National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to update it on the progress and commitment on whether the State will meet the deadline.

Kenya has to meet the conditions to be allowed to import a maximum of 340,000 metric tonnes of sugar against an annual shortfall of 300,000 metric tonnes.

Yesterday, the committee chair Ayub Savula told The Standard Mr Rotich has been summoned to shed more light on the process, which if not concluded will lock out the country from importing sugar from the bloc.

“He will appear before the committee on Thursday to furnish it with a status update,” said Mr Savula, also MP for Lugari.

CJ’s intervention

The legislators are also concerned that disputes over ownership of some of the targeted sugar factories may cause delay and are seeking a quick solution to the resolutions of cases pending in court. They have cited Miwani Sugar Company whose case over land ownership is pending in the appellate court.

“We have since written to the Chief Justice seeking his intervention to ensure the matters touching on Miwani and others are concluded within time to pave way for privatisation,” Savula said.

Apart from Miwani, other factories that have to be privatised include Chemelil, Muhoroni, Sony and Nzioa within this period.

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