William Ruto defends agreement amid criticism (Daily Nation (Kenya))

The sugar agreement signed with Uganda is meant to flush out unscrupulous traders who deal in the sweetener in Kenya, Deputy President William Ruto said on Friday.

Mr Ruto said the deal would ensure sugar boards in the two countries work in cooperation to ensure only genuinely produced sugar in Uganda was marketed in Kenya.

The deal was meant to protect local farmers against cartels that have been illegally importing cheap sugar from other countries through Uganda, he said.

Mr Ruto said the traders behind the importation of illegal sugar had flooded the local market with their products, which they package as those produced by local sugar factories.

These people come and package their sugar in Mumias Sugar Company packets, purporting that the commodity has been produced in Kenya, while local factories are stuck with unsold products, he said.

He spoke during rallies in Kericho, Webuye and Nambale.

Mr Ruto said the government was committed to protecting farmers against illegal sugar dealers.

National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale wondered how western Kenya MPs were going to address the sugar crisis if they were not ready to discuss it with the Government.

It’s only the Government which can sort out the mess in the sugar sector … The Opposition can only lament, said Mr Duale, whose sentiments were echoed by other MPs.

ROUGE TRADERS

Mr Duale, and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen accused Mr Odinga of hoodwinking western Kenya leaders when he had done nothing for the region.

What can Raila offer western Kenya now that he did not when he was the Prime Minister? asked Mr Duale.

Mr Mrkomen said the Government must continue to pursue cartels that had brought the sugar industry to its knees.

Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kindiki Kithure said individuals who brought down Mumias and rogue traders who have flooded the marked with cheap sugar were known and the government was dealing with them.

The Deputy President said the Jubilee government was committed to bringing development to all corners of the country by working with leaders, irrespective of their party affiliations.

At the same time, Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Aden Mohamed said measures were being put in place to keep illicit sugar out of the market. The minister said a new unit of 100 police officers had been set up to fight counterfeit goods.

GRADUATION

He spoke at the Kenya School of Governance during the graduation of 20 officers, the first batch attached to the Anti-Counterfeit Agency.

Mr Mohamed said President Uhuru Kenyatta had already ordered entry points along the Kenya Somalia border to be restricted to three.

A month or two ago, the President authorised only three entry points along the Kenya-Somali border, which will be manned by police officers and customs officials, he said.

He added that his ministry would not allow the importation of cheap sugar being repackaged to serve the Kenyan market.

REACTING TO PROTESTS

Mr Mohamed was reacting to protests by the Opposition against the sugar deal signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni.

Elsewhere, Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority Director-General Alfred Busolo said a number of suspicious applications to import sugar were cancelled two months ago.

There are quite a number of applications that have been rejected. There was documentation that was not quite in order, said Mr Busolo.