A Kwale businessman has been sentenced to five months imprisonment for selling subsidised maize flour above Sh90 in a punishment that comes weeks after the Treasury started controlling the price of the staple food.
Kwale Senior Resident Magistrate Betty Koech said Moses Ochieng had breached the law by selling the subsidised flour at Sh120 for the two kilogramme packet against the controlled price of Sh90.
This follows the publication of a gazette notice on May 26 giving the State legal backing for control over the price of sifted maize flour.
This marks the first time the order has been issued under a law passed in 2011 allowing price control of essential goods.
On May 16 Kenya announced Sh6 billion subsidies for maize importers to help lower the cost of flour which shot up due to a regional drought.
The subsidy cut the price of a 90kg bag of maize to Sh2,300 from over Sh4,000, enabling the 2kg packet of flour to be sold at Sh90 against the market cost of Sh140.
“Even if it is the first time the matter is appearing before this court, the accused is sentenced to serve five months in prison or a fine of Sh10,000 so that he can serve as a lesson to others who are exploiting the public,” said the magistrate while sentencing Mr Ochieng.
The subsidised flour remains in short supply in the market on inadequate maize imports, setting the stage for traders to sell the staple at above Sh90 due to high demand.
“A person who contravenes the provisions of this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both,” states the law.
Additional reporting by KNA.