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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 13 October 2014

NZOIA SUGAR BOSS DIFFERES WITH PR BRANCH



Nzoia Sugar Company has refuted claims that the company has been losing Sh120 million per month due to illegal importation and smuggling of cheap sugar. Managing director Saul Wasilwa dismissed earlier reports that quoted the public relations officer to the effect that the Bungoma- based miller was unable to sell 100,000 metric tonnes saying the reporter had got the facts wrong. He said the figure quoted was imaginary since Nzoia Sugar mills 70,000 metric tonnes per year.

Wasilwa said the stock is moving contrary to reports that the company is not selling sugar besides milling daily, though not as fast as they would have liked to but that at least there was progress. Wasilwa urged the media to get facts before publishing reports.
Wasilwa attributed the high stocks to large volumes of illegally imported and cheap sugar circulating in the market.

Webuye West MP Alfred Sambu urged the government to deal decisively with unscrupulous businessmen who import cheap sugar which has now crippled the local sugar industry.
The illicit sugar has been retailing at Sh90 a kilogramme in supermarkets while the locally processed commodity is sold at Sh110 a kilogramme.  The rise in illegal sugar imports comes after the government tightened surveillance over importers of both domestic and industrial sugar to curb dumping it in the local market. The state plans to establish an inter-agency enforcement unit to deal with the illegal imports that have unsettled the market.

Despite a sustained decline in price, the commodity has remained artificially expensive as traders continue to rake in billions. In an exclusive interview with Weekly Citizen, Kakamega senator Bonny Khalwale blamed a cabal of powerful individuals for the chaos in the sugar sector, where everything possible is being done to keep sugar prices high as local millers perform dismally in market. Khalwale said the millers are being run down to ensure the same cartels buy them cheaply when they are finally offloaded in the market under an envisaged privatisation scheme, he claimed. Khalwale whose county is in the Western sugar belt did not divulge names of the shady individuals, but promised to reveal them in the senate where senators enjoy immunity as a special privilege.

Kimilili constituency politician Didmus Barasa raised concern over importation of illegal sugar. He said the vice threatens the local sugar industry. Barasa said if it is not checked, 10 sugar millers may soon close down and urged the government to move with speed and check the illegal trade by making sure foreign sugar does not affect production of the community by local sugar industries, he said.

During a thanksgiving service for Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka at Kamukuywa Primary School grounds in the county this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta told traders to stop importation of cheap sugar to protect the local industry. The president said the government will not tolerate unscrupulous traders who are killing the local sugar industry through cheap imports. The president directed release of Sh500 million to be paid to farmers who delivered their sugarcane to Nzoia Sugar Company.

He pointed out that the region’s economy depended on the sugar industry and urged cane farmers to diversify their activities by growing other cash crops. Bungoma governor has also voiced his concern at cheap sugar imports which he said was killing the local industry. Kenya has been a favourite destination for dumping of cheap sugar by unscrupulous businesspeople who take advantage of the high cost of production of the commodity by local millers. For example, it costs Sh86,970 to produce a tonne of sugar in Kenya compared to Sh26, 000 in Mauritius.