Cheaper ugali remains elusive

December 10, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – Kenyans will have to wait for one more week before they can enjoy lower maize meal prices.

Although the 10-day period given to the millers to lower the price expires on Thursday, Agriculture Assistant Minister Kareke Mbiuki told Parliament that government expected the new price of Sh72 for a 2-kilogram packet to be enforced early next week.

“Within next week all the supermarkets and retail stores must sell at Sh72 and below since the government is going out of its way to subsidise the price of maize,” he said.

Mr Kareke said this as he tabled in the House the different brands of maize flour available in the market and their prices following demands by legislators that he assures them that government-branded maize flour was of the same quality as regular flour. The assistant minister allayed fears that the subsidised flour was of inferior quality.

The government launched the subsidised flour on Tuesday and announced that the commodity packed in five kilogram bags would sell at Sh130.  The first consignment of 400,000 bags was expected in retail stores by Wednesday.

However a spot check by Capital News showed that the commodity had not reached major supermarkets in the city by Wednesday evening. “We are not aware of that brand of flour,” an attendant in one of the stores said.

Mr Mbiuki assured that the government-branded flour would be made available to all Kenyans across the country although the initial plan was to sell it to low income earners. “This flour will be available in all the supermarkets so that consumers can benefit form the subsidies,” he said.

The government negotiated with millers for the price cuts last week following escalating prices. The price of a two-kilogram packet rose to Sh120 last month down from Sh48 a year ago. The price fluctuations have been blamed on the scarcity of maize in the country.

In exchange of the price reductions, the government committed to sell maize to the millers at a flat rate of Sh1,950 per 90-kilogramme bag.


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