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Parliamentary Committee wants CSs Rotich, Adan reprimanded over sugar scandal

The committee noted that the country lost about Sh2 billion through alleged tax evasion and wants companies implicated in the scam to be probed. Photo/FILE.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – Two Cabinet Secretaries have been implicated in the sugar scandal report tabled by the parliamentary committee that investigated the proliferation of contraband sugar in the country.

The Joint Committee led by Kieni MP Kanini Kega and Mandera South MP Adan Haji wants Treasury CS Henry Rotich held accountable for sanctioning a duty-free window that opened the floodgates for importers to import excess sugar tax free.

“The relevant investigative agencies should investigate the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury to ascertain the circumstances under which Gazette Notice No. 4536, 9801, 9802 and 10149 were issued leading to the importation of excess sugar into the country and evasion of taxes,” read part of the report.

On Industrialization CS Adan Mohamed, the parliamentary team noted, failed in his mandate of ensuring that the Kenya Bureau of Standards carried out its role of ensuring that the imported sugar was safe for human consumption.

The MPs also want the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to probe former Agriculture CS Willy Bett, currently Kenya’s High Commissioner to India, over his involvement in the sugar imports.

The committee noted that the country lost about Sh2 billion through alleged tax evasion and wants companies implicated in the scam to be probed.

The committee further expressed frustration from State agencies as the team attempted to verify the reports of mercury contamination.

The team said the University of Nairobi (UoN) and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) – the independent testing agencies it contracted – were obstructed from carrying further tests to validate the findings.

“In the view of the findings submitted by the Government Chemist that two samples tested positive for mercury (Moi Airbase, Eastleigh and Webuye West, Bungoma), and the obstruction of the University of Nairobi (UoN) and Kephis to validate the same finding through independent testing agencies, the relevant government agencies should immediately conduct further investigations,” reads the 58 page report.

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According to the report, two samples of the impounded 1.4 million 50kg bags were found with mercury while another 837,244 bags were found to have failed standards for human consumption, meaning a huge chunk of the seized sugar would be condemned in the next 21 days as recommended by the committee if the report will be adopted.

The government was also asked by the committee to ban importation of raw sugar meant for further processing to avoid diversion of the same into the local market.

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