The government is ready to surrender its stake in five sugar factories to streamline the management of the sector, Deputy President William Ruto has said. He said the government is mulling privatising Miwani, Muhoroni, Nzoia, Sony and Chemelil sugar factories.
“We have to make changes to the model we are using to manage the sugar sector. We have no problem even if it means we surrender our stake in the sugar factories, so long as it will be for the benefit of sugarcane farmers,” he said.
Speaking during a consultative meeting on the privatisation of sugar factories at his Karen office, Nairobi, on Wednesday, Ruto said the manner in which the factories were being run called for re-energising of the management of the industry.
The meeting brought together governors from sugarcane-growing areas and officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Lands, Devolution, Treasury and the National Lands Commission. Ruto said decisions must be made to better manage the sugar industry for the sake of farmers.
“With a situation where private companies are making money while public ones are making losses, there is a problem which must be fixed,” he said. Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture), governors Okoth Obado (Siaya), Stephen Sang (Nandi) and Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Privatisation Commission chairman Henry Obwocha and his National Land Commission counterpart Muhammad Swazuri were present.
Ruto asked stakeholders working on the privatisation programme to consult farmers on how the sector could be better managed. He said a meeting of leaders should be held before embarking on consultations on individual factories, saying the management of each factory had its own challenges and the way it would like them addressed.
“Consultations should be done on individual factories so as to get views on how each one of them wants issues affecting it addressed,” he said. It also emerged that the five sugar companies’ debts stood at Sh89.3 billion as at the end of December last year. The committee urged the government to write off the debts owned by the public factories.