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2 ministers face the axe over bad sugar scandal

Two Cabinet Secretaries could be forced out of office after two parliamentary committees recommended the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe their actions leading into last year’s importation of contaminated sugar into the country.

However, this will only come to pass if the National Assembly adopts the report of the joint committees on Agriculture and Livestock, and Trade, Industry and Cooperatives that has recommended Cabinet Secretaries Henry Rotich (Treasury) and Adan Mohamed (East African Community) to be held culpable for endangering the lives of Kenyans.

If adopted, the two could be forced out to pave the way for investigations.

STORMED OUT

The report of the committee, co-chaired by Mandera South MP Adan Ali and his Kieni colleague Kanini Kega, was tabled in the House yesterday evening. Drama marked its writing stage, with some members storming out of sessions held at Nairobi’s Panari Hotel.

The report also wants former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett, now the Kenyan High Commissioner to India, to be investigated for aiding 14 companies to import the commodity without paying duty.

“The Directorate of Criminal Investigations should investigate Rotich to ascertain the circumstances under which he issued the gazette notices that led to the importation of excess sugar into the country and evasion of taxes,” the committee says in its report.

SH10 MILLION

Similarly, the committee has recommended that Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) recovers about Sh10.5 billion the government lost in taxes from 14 companies that imported sugar outside the duty waiver period.

The Sh10 billion loss is on top of the Sh36 billion that the government is said to have lost in VAT and import duty exemptions, according to KRA during the waiver period of between May and December last year.

The MPs also want the multi-agency team to destroy sugar seized across the country and which is unfit for human and animal consumption.

But, even as the committee made its recommendation, a group of MPs are already pushing for the amendment of the report before it is debated and adopted to expunge the harsh recommendations against Mr Mohamed. Until recently Mr Mohamed was in charge of the Industrialization and Enterprise Development docket.

MERCURY TRACES

“The fact that he was removed from the ministry at the time the country is facing the crisis over the suitability of the sugar in the market is a clear sign that he is incompetent,” a member of the committee, who did not want to go on record, said of Mr Mohamed.

The recommendations of the 38-member committee were based on the report of the Government Chemist, Mr Ali Gakweli.

Mr Gakweli found traces of mercury, lead, copper and other of metals in the sugar consumed by the military officers at the Eastleigh’s Moi Airbase in Nairobi as well as that seized in Bungoma.

The samples tested were collected from sugar seized at Diamond Wholesalers go down in Eastleigh and Paleah stores in Ruiru. About 130 bags of contaminated sugar were seized from the AFCO stores at the Moi Airbase and 50,000 metric tonnes in Bungoma.

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