Charge Rotich, Bett over maize scam, says team

Senators want Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich and his former Agriculture counterpart Willy Bett be held responsible for the excess importation of maize during last year’s open window.

A Senate ad hoc committee probing the maize crisis, chaired by Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), has  asked the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission (EACC) and Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti to fast-track the probe and immediately seize the property  of individuals found to have benefited from the illegal maize importation deal.

Farmers suffering

“The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji must ensure the investigations in the matters are concluded expeditiously and those found liable prosecuted,” the team said.

The committee, in the report tabled in the Senate yesterday, revealed that the imported maize was sold to the Agriculture ministry through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) at inflated prices.

“It is regrettable that a majority of our farmers are yet to be paid for their produce even after the Executive promised they will be paid, reason being that the money was  used to pay transporters, brokers and ghost farmers,” says the report.

The committee said the money that the government had offered farmers was not agreed upon but the State was quick to pay the maize importers at inflated prices. The report questions why the Strategic Food Reserve Oversight Board (SFROB) authorised payments for the maize even after its term had expired.

Not suitable

The senators said Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri should develop regulations on importation of maize and other food crops, and table them before the Senate within 45 days.

“The Government agencies should maintain accurate records, without which they must be held responsible and accountable in accordance with the law.”

The committee found out that no evidence was adduced to confirm that the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) carried out standard checks at the ports of entry during the period when the duty free import window was exploited.

The committee states that following the complaints raised over the suitability of the imported maize, Kebs was directed to carry out sampling and testing according to the quality standards for all maize stored in the NCPB silos.

The report established that 63.3 per cent of the imported maize was substandard and not suitable for human consumption.

According to data produced by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), 1,800 metric tonnes  of maize was imported through Malaba One Stop Border Point (OSBP) during the period yet during the Committee visit to the area, members were shocked to discover that 12,400 metric tonnes was received and a further 43,100 metric tonnes  at Busia entry point.

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