NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – The government has dissolved the entire board of the National Cereals and Produce Board and sent its two General Managers on terminal leave pending retirement.,
The raft of measures announced by Agriculture Minister William Ruto on Monday also saw the dismissal of 12 out of the 17 senior managers.
"Accordingly, the board of directors has been reconstituted replacing all its members. The new board members are: Dr Andrian Wekulo, Elias Barre Shill, Rozaah Akinyi, Mohammed Islam and Timothy Busienei," Mr Ruto said at a news conference.
He added that the newly appointed Chairman of the Board Jimnah Mbaru, was not affected by the changes since he is a presidential appointee.
Mr Ruto said the measures were a product of an audit carried out since October last year whose report he received last Friday. "The top level management has also been reduced from 14 to four departments," he stated. "All their positions will be advertised for competitive replacement."
NCPB has been in the headlines in the recent past over alleged corruption in the purchase of the already scarce maize and its allocation to millers.
The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission is investigating the claims that 100,000 bags disappeared from the strategic grain reserves manned by the NCPB. Reports indicate that the country could have lost close to a billion shillings through corruption deals in the company.
"The foregoing actions do not in any way whatsoever absolve any member who is connected to any misconduct from responsibility and action to be taken against them as a result of the ongoing investigations," Mr Ruto warned.
Corruption and inefficiency at NCPB has elicited public uproar as 10 million Kenyans face starvation. Although the government introduced subsidised maize flour, the public company has failed in the distribution. Mr Ruto admitted the failure and said new managers would facilitate ‘transparent, efficient and professional delivery of the company’s mandate.’
The minister said that the government would in the next few weeks contract private companies in the distribution of the flour but pegged this on the availability of maize.
But as the top management was sent packing, other members of staff at the company will be smiling all the way to the bank as the government has approved a 40 percent increase in their remuneration.
The government has in the meantime waived import duty on all food items as it seeks to address the current food crisis.
"Millers and any other interested parties can now import grain and any manner of food stuffs into the country duty free," the minister announced.
The minister dismissed alleged plans by the millers to increase their prices on claims of the scarcity of maize.