Details emerging from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to Uganda indicate that he committed our country to an agreement that will allow cheaper Ugandan sugar into the Kenyan market and Kenyan beef and dairy products to the Uganda market.
This deal on sugar is sour. It comes at a time Kenya’s leading sugar manufacturer Mumias Sugar is struggling to get back on its feet. Sugar cane farmers across the country are equally struggling as a result of lack of payments.
Equally tasteless is the deal on beef and dairy products. We doubt that the Kenya Co-operative Creameries and the Kenya Meat Commission currently have the capacity to export dairy and beef respectively to Uganda. It is therefore unclear who this deal is meant to benefit in Kenya. The deal therefore seems dangerous and reckless.
It flies in the face of the government’s stated attempt to revive Mumias Sugar through tax-payer funded bailout. It seems reckless of the government to put money into a struggling sugar firm then proceeds sign a deal whose effect will be to flood the market with cheap imported sugar.
The contracts mark a continuation of deals similarly shrouded in secrecy, mostly through single sourcing and where personal business interests override national interests. Such has been witnessed in the awarding of tenders for the management of the new KPA terminal and the construction of theUganda-Kenya crude oil pipeline. The tribulations of the national carrier Kenya airways equally results from such shadowy negotiations over national assets for private business gains.
We therefore call on the President to make public the entire content of the trade agreement signed with Uganda for scrutiny on how the Kenyan workers, farmers and tax payers stand to benefit. The government should equally make public all similar deals signed with other countries. We have reason to suspect that personal business interests are colliding with official duty to override propriety and accountability on matters of bilateral trade. We are losing faith that Jubilee regime is and has been negotiating bilateral deals in the best interest of Kenyans.
Kenyans need to be told how this deal benefits our sugar industry, how we will police the Uganda sugar sector to ensure what is exported to Kenya originates from that country and that Kenyan traders do not take advantage to sneak in their own imports. We must not be duped into supporting deals that only bequeath a mortgaged future to our country and our children.
Hon Raila Odinga; EGH
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