State flags ‘glaring’ gaps in billions paid to maize millers under subsidy


Maize in sacks near Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County after drying. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

The Ministry of Agriculture has completed the audit on the payment of millers arising from the maize subsidy programme, saying inconsistencies will be investigated further.

This comes even as processors fight back claims that the money was paid to ghost firms.

Cereal Millers Association says the government owes them Sh2.7 billion as the Ministry of Agriculture and Treasury claim the initial payment that was done by the previous government cannot be tracked.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Harsama Kellow said the audit has revealed some inconsistencies in payment, which is now subject to investigation.

“We are done with the audit report and we shall be making it public in due course, we have realised that there are some glaring issues in regard to payment,” said Mr Kellow without giving much details.

A fortnight ago, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u called on Parliament to help track the firms that were paid the Sh4 billion under the subsidy, saying they could not trace the payment.

However, large-scale millers say its members have so far been paid Sh1.7 billion out of Sh4.3 billion worth of flour they supplied by the time the subsidy programme was ending.

“The implementation of this initiative was undertaken through a transparent process that involved the Ministry of Agriculture and Treasury, and all millers were selected based on strict criteria, including adherence to government regulations and proof of their capacity to process maize,” said millers in a statement.

Smallscale millers under their umbrella body – United Grain Millers Association— say the government owes them Sh290 million from the flour that they sold under the subsidy programme.

“So far the government owes us Sh290 million arising from the supplies that we made during the programme,” said Ken Nyaga, the chairperson of the association.

Maize millers said they are struggling to stay in business following delays by the government to pay them billions of shillings accrued during the programme.

The debt, argue the millers, has cut their working capital even as the cost of maize remains high amid diminishing demand for flour.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government signed a contract with 129 millers as part of its efforts to cushion consumers.

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