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Economy

MPs claim Rotich, Bett allowed duty-free sugar imports after deadline

From left: MPs Tindi Mwale (Butere), Ayub
From left: MPs Tindi Mwale (Butere), Ayub Savula (Lugari) and Justus Murunga (Matungu) during the Press briefing at Parliament buildings on July 10. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE 

Treasury secretary Henry Rotich and his former Agriculture counterpart Willy Bett are on the spot after MPs tabled documents showing they allowed 14 companies to import sugar duty-free after the expiry of the waiver period.

The documents presented by Western Kenya legislators, led by Lugari MP Ayub Savula during a Press briefing at Parliament Buildings claim the firms imported 71,041 metric tonnes.

According to the documents bearing the official seals of the ministries, Mr Rotich and Mr Bett directed the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to release the sugar without levying the 100 per cent duty, saying failure to meet the deadline was due to unavoidable logistical issues.

Mr Rotich issued a gazette notice in May 2017 allowing importation of sugar and milk duty-free up to August 31 for purposes of stabilising prices of the two commodities.

Following the lapse of the duty waiver window, Mr Bett in a September 2017 letter to Mr Rotich recommended that the 14 sugar importers should not be locked out and their consignment cleared duty-free.

Mr Bett in the letter argued that the companies had experienced delays in arrival of their consignments following ocean tides, turbulence and unfavorable weather conditions in the high seas.

The 14 importers include Flora Bakers Ltd, Piccadilly Holding Ltd, Landmark Freight Services, Darasa Investments Ltd, Pillarmatt Ltd, The Option Two Ltd and Ifox Commodity Ltd.

Others are Paleah Stores Ltd, Mapping Trading company, Sukari Investments Ltd, Elon Commodities (K) Ltd, Coast Terminal east Africa Ltd, Zack Petroleum Ltd and Export Trading Company Ltd.

The MPs are now demanding that the 14 sugar importers pay full duty for sugar imported after gazette notice 4536 expired.

They also want the Ethics and anti-Corruption Comission (EACC) to take up the matter and ensure the culprits are prosecuted.

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