Sh10b oil got State assent, says Munya

Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.

Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has defended a decision to release, without any conditions, Sh10 billion edible oils confiscated by the Government.

Mr Munya yesterday insisted that a multi–agency team (MAT) arrived at the decision “in the best interest of the nation”.

He dispelled fears that the product was not fortified with Vitamin A or that it would be harmful to consumers.

The Cabinet Secretary instead stressed that it was the responsibility of compliance agencies to ensure the public was kept abreast of the matter.

But Public Health Director Kepha Ombacho and the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti, who were members of the multi–agency team, have distanced themselves from the decision.

Mr Kinoti is investigating how his approval was given for the waiver of fortified requirements for impounded edible oils consignment imported by M/S Maybros Kenya Limited.

Approved decision

Munya said the Kenya Bureaus of Standards (Kebs), which sets standards for imported products, and the Kenya Revenue Authority - who are members of the multi–agency team - had approved the decision at a meeting the DCI did not attend.

“This is a multi-agency decision. The decision was made to release the products to all traders. We could not release the oils to small traders and leave the others out,” Munya told The Standard.

Munya said his role was to sign a waiver as the head of the line ministry.

According to the CS, this was a matter of national importance and it was the Government’s duty to protect the public.

“If you have seen my letters, I received a request from the owners of the products and consulted the Kebs board, which recommended that I release the same. It approved the waiver. “This commodity is not harmful to the public. The Government has taxed the importers and taxes paid to KRA. Why should we punish them after they have imported their products by not being allowed in market?” Munya said.

He faulted the decision to order the importers to ship the products back to the country of origin.

“In other words, shipping back will be at the cost of the importers. Why should we bankrupt people over an error of Government? I ordered the waiver and will carry the burden. The MAT meeting included KRA, Kebs and the DCI.”