How DP Ruto has explained the ‘swift’ maize imports
Deputy President William Ruto has come out to silence those claiming that the Government has been involved in underhanded dealings in the recent maize importation deal, saying that there has been massive misinformation about the recently announced subsidies.
Opposition leaders had earlier questioned the expediency of the maize imports announced by government, saying that it was suspicious that goods imported from Mexico arrived just days after Parliament zero-rated imports.
Speaking with Citizen TV’s Anne Kiguta, Ruto sais that having realised that there would be a shortage of maize in the country, the government made an announcement about duty free maize in April.
“It is not true, for example that this maize arrived here from Mexico in three days. That is a flat lie. We announced duty waivers one month ago. The Duty waiver was waived in April and we asked importers to import maize one month ago,” he said.
Insinuating that those who were pushing the three-day narrative were being intentionally untruthful, Ruto said that the most recent announcement was for sugar, not maize as some members of the opposition had mentioned.
“A narrative is being announced that the duty waiver for maize was done in May, and that is incorrect. We waived the sugar imports recently, and that is why sugar prices will take more time to drop,” he explained.
Pressed to explain exactly where the imported maize originated from, Ruto said he was unsure, adding that private firms – not the government – imported the grains.
“The importer is not the government. I work for the government of Kenya,” he retorted, adding that the most important issue was not the source of the maize, but the fact that unga prices had dropped.
Agriculture CS Willy Bett on Tuesday announced that, thanks to the government subsidy program, the price of a 2kg pack of unga would be Ksh.90 from Wednesday.
A spot check in various spots around the country showed that the Ksh.90 maize had arrived at most major towns.
According to Ruto, the government is planning to import a total 5,000,000 bags of maize between now and the September harvest, this at an estimated cost of Ksh.6 billion.
“The estimate from all the factors that have been put is six billion on the higher side, depending on the cost at which maize will be in the international markets,” he said.
The Maize Maze
On May 14, CS Bett received maize in Mombasa, saying that it had been shipped in from Mexico – a statement that was backed by Transport Principal Secretary, Paul Mwangi.
When questions were raised about the expediency of the imports, Mwangi said that speculative merchants usually have such goods on the high seas.
“Merchant ships like IVS Pinehurst which brought the maize are always awaiting in the high sees for such business,” he said.
Despite these statements, members of the public have raised several questions:
Where does the the maize actually come from?
Did some suppliers already have privileged information beforehand?
If the maize was indeed imported by private companies, why did government officials receive it at the ports?
These are pertinent questions that still remain unanswered.
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