The Kenya-Uganda sugar talks focussed on setting up a regional board to curb perennial shortage of the commodity in East Africa, Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Amina Mohammed said yesterday.
She maintained Kenya did not sign any deal on importation of sugar and promised the government will today publish full details of the trade talks in Uganda.
“The proposed East Africa Sugar Board will ensure that all sugar that is produced in the region can be sold within the region,” she said on the sidelines of the Japan investment forum in Nairobi.
Contradictions abound over the Kenya-Uganda trade talks during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s official visit to the country sparking a war of words political between the government and the opposition leaders who are against the ‘sugar deal’.
According to the CS, the existing sugar safeguards expire in February 2016 opening trade for sugar exports among member states.
However the sugar industry will enjoy protection from the enactment of the Finance Bill 2015 that will increase import duty from $200 per tonne to $460 per tonne, specific tax and a 100 per cent ad valorem tax.
The Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry chairman Kiprono Kittony said the political heat is bad for the sugar industry adding the prolonged sugar protectionism has caused inefficiencies and a sluggish improvement of the sector.
“We need to depoliticise the sugar industry because politics will not improve the sector. While protection during the budget 2015/2016 safeguards since 2002 seem not to yield faster results towards revitalisation of the sugar sub-sector,” he said in a media briefing.
He said the government should ensure timely payment of farmers and increase funding to the agriculture sector by 10 per cent of the national budget to enhance economic growth.
“The government should fast track privatisation of the sugar factories to enhance their productivity and create strong governance structures composed of business people. This would improves governance issues,” he said.