Parliament wants Sh6b Uhuru maize subsidy scheme probed

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Members of Parliament have invited the DCI to investigate the Sh6.3 billion maize flour subsidy programme initiated under the reign of former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

A report tabled in the House this week by the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Agriculture has established that most of the flour said to have been distributed under the program could not be traced.

“At least 82.17 per cent of the total maize flour that was produced under the subsidy programme by the Cereal Millers Association cannot be traced to the consumers based on the distribution channels. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations should investigate this and present the findings to the National Assembly within three months of the adoption of this report by the House,” reads the report in part.

The subsidy programme was implemented between July 1, 2022 and August 17, 2022, in the run-up to that year’s hotly elections. Under the plan, Kenyans would purchase a 2kg packet of sifted maize flour at Sh100, down from Sh210.

This was part of the government’s move to address the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities. The subsidy was aimed at making maize flour affordable to Kenyans.

To implement this, the Cereal Millers’ Association (CMA) and the Grain Mill Owners Association (GMOA) were selected to produce and distribute the subsidized flour across the country. GMOA is the umbrella association of medium- and small-scale millers in Kenya.

A total of 118 millers took part in the programme, out of which 78 were members of GMOA while 29 came from CMA. 11 were independent millers.

The committee led by John Munga has however faulted the CMA for not demonstrating that it indeed gave Kenyans value for money by delivering on their contractual obligation. In its report, it highlighted that CMA supplied a third of the 121,714,814 kgs of sifted maize flour that was to be distributed around the country.

CMA consequently sought to be paid Sh4.46 billion of the total Sh6.3 billion subsidy budget. The report reveals that CMA has been paid Sh1.9 billion with a pending balance of Sh2.56 billion.

The team is now recommending that the DCI investigates the matter to establish whether the subsidy scheme achieved the intended objective and probe milling companies to establish whether the flour that was said to have been supplied under the arrangement was milled.

“The DCI should also look into the quality and quantity of flour produced under the plan, the price of the flour and where it was sold,” the team said. The report is set to be debated from next week.

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