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Raila orders probe into NCPB finances

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 9 – The Government on Monday ordered a forensic audit of all the financial transactions of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) since July 1, 2008 with a view to unearthing any malpractices at the parastatal.

Speaking when he opened the Kenya Donor Coordination Group meeting, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the audit would be conducted by a reputable international firm and its findings would be made public.

“The Government has directed that a forensic audit of all financial transactions of National Cereals and Produce Board NCPB and its handling of imported grains since July 1, 2008, be conducted.  Those found responsible of wrong doing, if any, will be held to account irrespective of their status,” he vowed.

The Premier expressed disappointment that corruption has significantly discouraged genuine private investment in the country both in Agriculture and Industry.

In a raft of measures aimed at streamlining the NCPB operations, the PM also announced that the management of buying and selling grains by the parastatal and its storage facilities would be outsourced to an international firm through an open bidding process.

“To avoid any disruptions in securing the supply of maize during this crisis period, the outsourcing of the management of the NCPB will commence from September 2009,” he said.

Mr Odinga noted that other than the NCPB, the government was aware of serious allegations in other areas as well. He said the government had put in place appropriate measures to arrest the situation.

He told the meeting, which was called to urge international assistance in addressing the current famine in the country, that 10 million people face hunger and risk starving to death.

However, members of the international community said the government must create confidence by dealing with malpractices in the maize sector.

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The PM said that the coalition administration would roll out strategies to contain the food crisis and disclosed that they would re-prioritise expenditures to overcome the food crisis and to care for the poorest and under-privileged.

The Premier requested all MPs and public servants earning more than Sh100,000 to contribute 10 percent of their March salaries to assist in purchasing food for the poor during this crisis.

Mr Odinga announced that he had formed a special task force to design a food subsidy scheme that is suitable for Kenya, which would be in operation by the end of the year.

“There was need for a well targeted food subsidy scheme that is efficient and accountable, that minimises opportunities for abuse and reaches all Kenyans who deserve help,” he said.

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