NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul, 19 – Sony Sugar Company says it did not import sugar during the duty-free import window granted by the government last year.
Acting Chief Executive Officer Bernard Otieno says the company had no capacity to finance any importation but signed a partnership with another company to bring in 50,000 Metric tons in a profit-sharing arrangement.
“The godowns where the sugar was stored were no ours. We were basically a consignee for this sugar. If you look in the agreement the obligation of storing packaging and distribution was with the other party,” Otieno explained.
His explanation at the Joint parliamentary committee probing the entry of contraband sugar into the Kenyan market was not convincing to the MPs, after saying the firm did not see the sugar even though they received Sh82 million as profit.
The MPs further questioned why Sony Sugar had to partner with private companies for importation yet the un-named company did not have the importation permit.
“The sugar was consigned to a private importer only at a commission of Sh82 million hence putting the lives of Kenyans at risk. Can you take responsibility if that is the same sugar outside there with impurities?” asked Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua.
Dagoretti North Member of Parliament Simba Arati seconded her sentiments saying Sony Sugar is the genesis of the sugar crisis that the country is now experiencing
“You as the acting CEO, aren’t you ashamed, haven’t you broken the regulation pertaining to public service by allowing importation beyond period and generally getting waver off duty?” Arati wondered.
The joint committee has been probing the sugar scandal for over a month now as Kenya Bureau of Standards said it has not detected elements of heavy metals in samples of the sugar it collected from the local market and tested so far.
Appearing before the joint sitting of the National Assembly committees on Trade and Industry, KEBS acting Managing-Director Moses Ikiara on Tuesday said their tests did not reveal any traces of Mercury, arsenic, lead and copper.
So far, he said, they have tested 53 samples that were sourced from 17 out of Kenya’s 47 counties.
Ikiara further added that of the 53 samples, 38 complied with the standards, representing 72 per cent conformity.
15 samples, however, failed the exam of moisture, yeast and mould, colour, total viable count and polarization, according to the acting MD.
Additionally, Dr Ikiara said Kebs detected copper and lead in two samples from sugar seized in Eastleigh and Ruiru, which had not been released into the local market.
The Joint Committee is expected to deliver its final report concerning the sugar saga on Tuesday next week.