There was an excess of imported industrial sugar admits Kiunjuri
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has admitted that there was an excess importation of industrial sugar in the year 2017.
Speaking before a parliamentary committee on Monday CS Kiunjuri; the first of four Cabinet Secretaries set to appear before the committee, acknowledged that there was an excess of 335,655 tonnes of imported sugar in 2017 which was high compared to previous years.
According to the CS, 193 importers were given an open notice to import sugar into Kenya; free of any duty, after the declaration of a food and drought crisis in the country in 2017 by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“The truth is there was an increase in what was imported in the country. Over 300,000 tonnes of excess sugar was imported and that has not been disputed,” said Kiunjuri.
Kiunjuri was keen to point out that there were reasons behind the importation of sugar in such excess amounts.
“There was drought from 2016-2017, it also happened to be an election year and everyone in government and the opposition agreed that there was a food shortage in the country. It was the crisis that not only led to the importation of sugar but to the importation of maize and milk powder as well,” said Kiunjuri.
“By February 2017, there was a high demand for the importation especially with the sky rocketing prices but we did not want to flood our markets and it was agreed that we would wait until prices for the commodities reached an all-time high and it was then that the cabinet made the decision to import these commodities.”
The CS added that the ministry took specific measures to govern the importation of sugar and this led to the decision led to approving 193 suppliers to import sugar into the country.
“People said we wanted to take advantage of the situation by offering licenses to our friends and as such the decision was made to open the importation window for everybody,” said Kiunjuri.
“We have a list of 193 importers and we avoided regulation so that every Kenyan could cash in on the opportunity.”