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Governor Ranguma says county to buy sugar firms during sale by State

Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma during the Second Devolution Conference at the Kisumu Labour College, April 22, 2015. [Photo/Paul Mutua/STANDARD]

The county government of Kisumu now wants to purchase the three sugar factories in the region that the national government wants to privatise.

Governor Jack Ranguma said his government was ready to take over Miwani, Muhoroni and Chemelil sugar factories. "We are committed to ensuring that these assets are fully owned by our farmers and not people from other counties," said Mr Ranguma.

The governor said the President had indicated that counties would be given the first priority in the purchase of the factories, adding that it is the local administration which knows how best to improve the firms for the benefit of residents.

HEEDED ADVICE

Ranguma seemed to have heeded calls from many leaders in the county, asking him and other governors in Nyanza to buy shares in the firms in the ongoing privatisation of non-performing sugar companies.

The House Committee on Finance Planning and Trade has recommended for the acceleration of sale of 51 per cent stake in five struggling sugar companies to strategic investors prior to the lapse of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa sugar safeguards.

On Friday, Ranguma met the management of Chemelil sugar company together with farmers supplying cane to the miller ahead of the privitisation exercise.

The governor argues that should the county government lack the capacity to buy all the sugar factories in the region, then residents from the lakeside region should be given the first priority during their privatisation. "There is underinvestment in these factories. We intend to increase their crushing capacity as well as diversify their products so that we can fully reap from the sugarcane value chain," he said.

However, Muhoroni MP Onyango K'oyoo dismissed Ranguma's statements as cheap politics meant to please poor residents.

He questioned where Ranguma would get the amount to buy even a single factory at Sh4 billion, a figure he said is half the county's entire budget. "We need to sit down as leaders and sensitise residents on how to approach the privatisation and not engaging in cheap politics," he said.

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