MPs to debate report on Uhuru maize flour subsidy

The report was tabled in the House on June 7.

In Summary
  • Uhuru introduced the program mid 2022 to cushion Kenyans from the skyrocketing flour prices in the country.
  • Some 119 millers participated in the programme.
MPs during the opening of refurbished Parliamentary chambers
MPs during the opening of refurbished Parliamentary chambers
Image: FILE

MPs are today set to debate a report by a Departmental Committee on Agriculture on the inquiry into bungled maize flour subsidy.

The report was tabled in the House on June 7.

The motion will be moved by Tigania West John Mutunga who chairs the Committee reads.

Retired President Uhuru Kenyatta introduced the program mid 2022 in a bid to tame the skyrocketing prices of flour in the country.

It was viewed as a political tool to woo voters ahead of the August 2022 elections.

"That, this House adopts the report of the Departmental Committee on Agriculture and Livestock on its inquiry into maize flour subsidy Programme for the Financial Year 2022/23, laid on the table of the House on June 7, 2023," the order paper reads.

Under the programme, Kenyans were to purchase a 2kg packet of sifted maize flour at Sh100 instead of Sh210 in an effort to make the commodity affordable to most Kenyans.

The Committee was forced to probe the matter after it emerged that millers were yet to be paid their full dues several months after the conclusion of the program.

The cereal millers association (CMA) demanded up to Sh2.5 billion from the Ministry of Agriculture as a balance of what the government owes them from distributing 121,714,844kg of flour.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Harsama Kellow, however, said the matter lies with the Treasury and not the Ministry of Agriculture at the moment.

“This issue is currently being handled by the Treasury and they are best placed to respond to queries from millers,” Kellow said in a past event.

Some 119 millers who participated in the programme including the CMA (large scale) and Grain Mill Owners Association (GMOA), who are small-scale millers, are said to have been paid a total of Sh3.4 billion out of the Sh6.4 billion.

CMA for example claimed it supplied flour worth Sh4.49 billion, but were only paid Sh1.95 billion hence a balance of Sh2.58 billion.

The report states that Mutunga says the programme may not have achieved its intended objective of supplying sifted white maize flour in all parts of the country at Sh100.

It added that the maize flour under the programme was not stamped “subsidy.”

The report further states that the millers manufactured the sifted maize and supplied it to wholesalers who supplied it to value chains.

"It was, however, not their responsibility to find out where the flour was sold and if it got to the consumers at the required retail price of Sh100,” the report explains.

The committee recommended Sh500 million owed to members of the GMOA be factored in the Budget Estimates for 2023/2024 Financial Year and paid because their computations were clear.

The Ministry of Agriculture was also asked to come up with a policy on how to engage in future subsidy programmes within three months of the adoption of the report.

It was established that the total amount spent on the programme was Sh7.26 billion.

"However, CMA informed the committee that the total amount for the programme was Sh6.6 billion while GMOA stated that the total amount was Sh6.4 billion,” the report added.

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