Maize, fuel dominate House opening

January 21, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – The high level corruption in government took centre stage on Tuesday when Parliament resumed its sittings.

Members of Parliament (MPs) back from a month’s Christmas holiday break demanded an explanation from the government over the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) Sh7.6 billion oil scandal and the unfolding maize scam, estimated to cost the taxpayer a whopping Sh825 million.

Kinangop MP David Ngugi sought a ministerial statement from Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi on the government’s involvement with Triton Petroleum Company, which is at the heart of the fuel scam.

“What role did ministry officials play in defrauding Kenyans billions of shillings in cohorts with Triton boss Yagnesh Devani, who has since fled the county,” Mr Ngugi questioned.

The legislators also said that Mr Murungi should give reasons for the fuel shortage experienced in the country towards the end of 2008.

On Friday, a parliamentary committee had said it intended to question government officials and oil industry players to unravel the Triton fuel scandal.

Members of the Energy, Communications and Public Works committee told reporters that they wanted to know how some 126 million litres of petroleum was released from KPC to Triton without the authority of local and international financiers.

Committee Chair James Rege said they would not spare anyone in the investigations, which were due to commence once Parliament reconvened.

Mr Rege indicated that they planned to question all stakeholders involved and top Ministry officials, including the Energy Minister and his Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike, and other players in the oil sector.

On the maize scandal that has had Prime Minister Raila Odinga implicated, Naivasha MP John Mututho said Agriculture Minister William Ruto should issue a ministerial statement on how many bags of maize had so far been imported and from which country they were sourced.

Mr Muthotho also wanted to know if any companies owned by politicians were involved in the importation of the maize.

“The Minister should state whether they was any irregular allocation of maize by the National Cereals and Produce Board to any politician, and if so, those involved should be named.”

The request for an explanation over the scam came even as acting Finance Minister John Michuki gave a notice of motion to have Parliament approve a move by the government to borrow Sh7.9 billion from the United States Department of Agriculture to buy maize.

If approved, the money would be handed to the National Cereals and Produce Board to purchase the maize, which will be distributed to the millions of Kenyans facing starvation.


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