SUBSIDY

Millers to receive Sh100 unga subsidy cash from today - PS

Millers say they are playing safe and do not want to burn their fingers

In Summary

• Agriculture PS has said as of July 26, 13 millers across the country had submitted their invoices.

• He said the Escrow account for the 2022 National Maize Flour subsidy Programme for paying millers from this week.

An almost empty shelf set aside to stock maize flour in a supermarket (left) and a trolley packed with about 10 packets of subsidized unga by a client in one of the supermarkets in Thika Town.
An almost empty shelf set aside to stock maize flour in a supermarket (left) and a trolley packed with about 10 packets of subsidized unga by a client in one of the supermarkets in Thika Town.
Image: James Wainana

Millers will start receiving payment for the national maize flour subsidy programme today, according to the Agriculture Principal secretary.

Francis Owino said that so far 13 millers have submitted their invoices for the maize flour supplied under the subsidy programme and are waiting for payment.

“We have a command centre at Kilimo House and we are busy as we receive invoices from millers across the country who have submitted their invoices and are under the subsidy programme," he said.

He said the process has so far been smooth and payment to the 13 millers will commence on Thursday.

Speaking to the Star on the phone on Wednesday, Owino said the Escrow account has Sh4 billion which will be used to pay the millers.

He assured Kenyans that everything is on course and there is no cause for alarm hence no need for panic buying.

‘We have enough maize flour stock for the country,” said the PS.

However, millers who talked to the Star on condition of anonymity said they are  cautious about supplying maize flour under the national subsidy programme until they are assured of payments.

The millers said they do not want a repeat of the 2017 subsidy program where payments delayed posing a big challenge.

The millers said they are supplying flour in small quantities to “play safe as we do not want to burn our fingers.”

They said while they are in support of the subsidy programme, they want the government to meet its end of the bargain.

While briefing the media on the maize subsidy programme on July 22, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya confirmed that there are still outstanding payments for the 2017 subsidy programme where a two-kilo packet of maize flour retailed at Sh90.  

He said implementation of the Sh100 national maize flour subsidy at a cost of Sh8 billion,  will go hand in hand with clearing Sh500 million owed to millers for the 2017 supply.

A spot check by the Star on Wednesday found empty maize flour shelves in various supermarkets, with some retail shops only stocking premium brands that are selling at Sh230 per 2kg bag.

This is despite an assurance by manufacturers that they will increase supply.

On Tuesday, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) asked consumers to stop panic buying which has led to an artificial shortage.

Chairman Rajan Shah told Kenya News Agency that there will be enough subsidised maize flour in the market hence no need for bulk purchases.

Shah, who is also the managing director of Capwell Industries which manufactures Soko and Amaize maize flour brands said millers have increased their capacities to ensure sufficient stock in the market.

''The subsidy offered by the government to the millers will help their businesses source enough maize stocks locally and internationally as well as ease milling,'' Shah said. 

Rajan said the company plans to ensure there is enough stock in the market, but his will be informed by the availability of maize, which he hoped will be enough to run the programme.

The country is expecting the arrival of the first imports from non-Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) markets after the government  waived taxes.

Shipments from countries that are not members of the EAC or the Comesa are subject to a 50 percent tariff.

In May, Kenya suspended tax on maize imports to boost shipments from outside the East African Community (EAC) amid a shortage of the commodity in the domestic market.

In a notice, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani waived import fees on white non-genetically modified organism (GMO) maize of up to 540,000 tonnes until August 6.