, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale has accused an Opposition MP of conspiring with unknown individuals to ‘kill’ a damning report on the sugar sector which was slated for debate in Parliament on Thursday.
This came after House Speaker Justin Muturi informed MPs that Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi had written to him withdrawing amendments to the report that unearths underhand dealings in Kenya’s sugar industry.
Duale said he is aware that ‘some forces’ have been preventing debate of the report, but vowed that the House will do everything possible to ensure that they defeat those forces.
“These amendments belong to a number of colleagues and now he (Wandayi) is not in the House, he has not told us whether he has eaten; whether he has been seen by the forces of sugar. This report, Mr Speaker, through your guidance should be shelved so that it comes on Tuesday because you cannot have amendments on the Order Paper since October and (then) this afternoon you purport to withdraw (them),” Duale said.
In his response, Wandayi said he is not privy to such conspiracies.
“My view is that my amendments are necessary; let the KPMG Report be adopted alongside the main report for it to have the effect of putting all those who are culpable for the bringing down of Mumias Sugar Company in the dock. I have no interest in those shenanigans that Honourable Duale is trying to impute,” Wandayi stated.
House Speaker Muturi postponed debate on the report until Tuesday next week following a request by Agriculture Committee Chairman Nooru Mohammed.
“The committee chairman and a few of his members approached the Chair (Speaker) a while ago requesting that this debate be adjourned to Tuesday next week because the committee was undertaking another site visit this afternoon and they have just left the chamber,” Muturi stated.
Apart from recommending harsh punishment for individuals responsible for the woes facing the sugar industry, the report also names sugar barons, major companies dealing in illegal importation and exportation of the commodity, who should take blame for bankrupting Mumias Sugar Company and running down other milling firms.
More importantly, the report also lists radical measures the government should take to turn around the industry.
This is not the first time the National Assembly has come under criticism for stalling debate on the report dubbed ‘The Crisis Facing the Sugar Industry in Kenya.’
The Amani National Congress (ANC) Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi last year linked the Jubilee and the CORD coalitions to a conspiracy to block the report with the intention of discarding it in totality.
He accused the two coalitions of sacrificing the sanctity of the findings for political reasons with keen intentions of harvesting votes from Western region.
According to Mudavadi, the report was listed on the Order Paper of the National Assembly for debate on two occasions but in each instance it was removed at the last minute amidst reports of behind the scenes horse trading between parliamentary leaders of both sides.
The report, compiled by the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Co-operatives in 2014, has not been debated.
The report further recommends the adoption of Sugar Industry Strategic Agenda for Increased Competitiveness; eliminate sugar smuggling and dumping incentives; embark on major infrastructure upgrade in the sugar belts and put in place tax breaks to attract new investors in the industry.
The report also seeks to push legislation to amend and fine tune sugar import and export laws to deter offenders, regulate repackaging of sugar by supermarkets to enforce KEBS and health standards and to quickly develop a central sugar marketing body.