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No more bailout for ailing State-owned sugar millers, says CS

The government will not bail out State-owned sugarcane millers that fail to run on their own by May next year.

Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri yesterday said the firms constantly seek cash injections but are unable to pay debts including farmers’ dues.

Speaking when he toured Nzoia Sugar factory, the CS said the State was not ready to continue pumping money in the factories as they crush and sell sugar.

“We can’t continue funding factories on yearly basis yet they are in business,’’ he said, adding that Nzoia Sugar had received more than Sh1 billion yet it is unable to pay farmers.

Apart from Nzoia, other public sugar processors include Chemelil, Miwani, Muhoroni and Sony Sugar.

The CS, who was accompanied by his devolution counterpart Eugene Wamalwa, said firms that will show signs of operating on their own after six months will be supported to continue being in business.

Last week Kiunjuri announced farmers will have to wait longer for Sh2.6 billion owed to them by public millers for deliveries made from 2014 to date as they will first undergo vetting to establish if they are genuine growers.

“We have constituted a committee comprising officers from the ministry and millers to vet all farmers owed money,” he said.

The task force was formed following a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta during Mashujaa Day celebrations on October 20. The team will be co-chaired by Kiunjuri and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, other members include governors Okoth Obado (Migori) and Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu).

Representation is also drawn from National Assembly, National Treasury, Privatisation Commission, private mills, Attorney General, Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee, Senate, Agriculture ministry and Treasury.

Yesterday, Kiunjuri said Nzoia Sugar will pay farmers before December 12 through their bank accounts. “We are not going to pay ghost farmers as it has happened with maize,’’ he said.

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