State maps 500,000 shops to sell cheap imported food


Packets of Maize Flour packed up at a supermarket. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Ministry of Trade has mapped 500,000 retail shops in the country where cheap imported foodstuff will be stocked as the government targets to ease the cost of living that pushed inflation to 9.2 percent in February.

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria told the Business Daily that the Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) has identified the shops that will benefit from this programme.

Mr Kuria said the ministry’s estimates show the cost of basic food commodities will decrease by at least 30 percent under this duty-free import scheme.

Mr Kuria said KNTC, which is importing the foodstuff, will sell these commodities directly to the shops that have been mapped out, hence reducing the long value chain that eventually makes the goods expensive.

“We have already mapped out the shops that will benefit from this programme. These are shops that serve the majority of Kenyans, especially in the low-income regions,” said Mr Kuria.

Kenya Revenue Authority issued an exemption on duty to KNTC for the importation of 125,000 tonnes of cooking oil, 25,000 tonnes of rice, 80,000 tonnes of beans, 200,000 tonnes of sugar and 150,000 tonnes of rice.

This is in addition to the previous duty exemption on 100,000 tonnes of sugar, 100,000 tonnes of rice and 900,000 tonnes of maize, which was issued in November last year.

The CS said this is a stopgap measure to address the high cost of living and that it will go on for the next one year when the country would have fully addressed the matter.

“This programme will run for a year as we are currently addressing the high cost of production through subsidy of key commodities to farmers such as fertiliser, by next year we shall be self-sufficient,” he said.

Mr Kuria said KNTC has secured credit from international and local banks to facilitate the imports of these commodities.

Though he did not disclose the name of the local banks, Mr Kuria said Egypt’s Afreximbank was just one of the institutions that they had approached to enable KNTC to guarantee sufficient importation of these key commodities.

Kenya’s inflation in February edged up for the first time in four months on renewed pressure on food and cooking gas prices, the statistics agency has reported.

Inflation — a measure of the cost of living over the last 12 months— rose to 9.2 percent from 9.0 percent the month before, the first rise since October.

The government is using KNTC as an anchor agency in its quest to lower the cost of basic commodities as it seeks to stabilise the runaway price of goods on the shelf, which has seen a two-kilo packet of sugar retail at Sh312 with maize flour of similar quantity going for Sh200.

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