The report that the government has entered into a trade pact to allowÂ imports of sugar from Uganda while the local sugar industry isÂ struggling is disheartening. The excuse of to balance trade betweenÂ our sister countries should not be used to enter into pacts thatÂ undermine local production. It amounts to placing a ransom on citizens
for the befit of external friends.
It is in bad taste.
President Uhuru Kenyattta owes Kenyans full disclosure on the detailsÂ of the alleged agreement. It cannot be that his Cabinet SecretaryÂ Amina Mohammed says there is no agreement while the President defendsÂ the alleged agreement.
There is a smoking gun somewhere. Is there aÂ pact or not? This contradiction needs correcting.Â Under section 153 of the Constitution, a cabinet secretary must makeÂ full and open disclosure of any pact entered with a foreign entity to
Parliament. This means public disclosure.
Importation of sugar to plug shortfalls is not new. However, anyÂ unregulated imports are a blank cheque for Lords of Sugar to distortÂ the market.
The lapse between signing a pact and disclosure toÂ Parliament should not be used to benefit dumping of cheap sugar in theÂ market. The already depressed production will suffer irreparableÂ damage.
Kenyans need to know what measures the government has taken to preventÂ unscrupulous importation of sugar from outside the COMESA protocol andÂ channeling it through Uganda to circumvent the regulations under theÂ Rules of Origin principles.
There is a classical example ofÂ re-packaging Brazilian sugar and dumping into the Kenyans market.Â The sugar industry sector is in need of urgent intervention.Â Livelihoods in the western sugar belt are threatened due to
unscrupulous practices leading to weakened and collapsing factoriesÂ like Mumias, Nzoia and Chemilil.
Even with commendable efforts at bail out, the government as the majorÂ shareholder in the factories still owes Kenyans an explanation how theÂ situation was left to deteriorate this far. However, this alleged dealÂ throws away the goodwill the government had earned through the recentÂ injection of Ksh1 billion bailout for Mumias.
This statement does not exclude the need for efficiency and goodÂ governance in the management of the sugar industry.
Hon. Musalia Mudavadi, EGH
ANC Party Leader