KENYA – President Uhuru Kenyatta has authorised the release of Sh1 billion for the revival of Mumias Sugar Company.
The Head of State promised to visit the firm Wednesday to oversee the release of the funds. The money is expected to jumpstart the company, which closed its doors last week when transporters downed their tools for lack of payment.
Speaking at State House in Nairobi during a meeting with members of Parliament from Western Monday, Uhuru cautioned that the revival of the company should not be politicised.
“We are keen on reviving the sugar company because we know it will benefit farmers. This has nothing to do with politics,” Uhuru said when he met 25 MPs led by Western Parliamentary Caucus Chairman John Bunyasi and Secretary Injendi Malulu.
Mr Bunyasi and Mr Malulu are the MPs for Nambale and Malava respectively. The State House meeting discussed a four-point, turnaround strategy for the company that included appointment of a professional management team.
The meeting also discussed the injection of funds based on a viable plan, undertaking a rights issue to raise between Sh3 and Sh4 billion, and rescheduling of debts the company owes financial institutions.
“The release of funds for the recovery of the key sugar company is based on the Government’s commitment to support cane farmers but not politics,” the President emphasised.
The MPs later addressed a press conference at Parliament building where they confirmed the President’s visit tomorrow.
“We agreed that the Government will give Sh1 billion to support Mumias’ recovery plan. We are glad that the President has agreed to come and tell the people what he is going to do with the company,” said Bunyasi.
Uhuru expressed optimism that the funds will help turn the sugar company around and make it a profit-making firm that will not only benefit cane farmers but also boost the economy of western Kenya.
Deputy President William Ruto, who also attended the meeting, said Mumias Sugar Company has the capacity to operate at a profit if it is managed professionally.
“There are people who do not want Mumias Sugar to be revived so that they can blame it on the Jubilee government,” said Mr Ruto. The DP asked the legislators from Western to join hands and shame the pessimists.
The MPs said that those who owe the company must be pursued and made to pay promptly. Mumias West MP Johnson Naicca, in whose constituency the company is located, lauded the move by the President to bail out the company.
“The Government has agreed to give the company Sh1 billion, which will be released on Wednesday to help it to be fully revived,” said Mr Naicca.
Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba said MPs, irrespective of political party affiliations, want to see the revival of collapsed industries in the larger Western region, including Panpaper, hence the reason for meeting the President.
“The President invited the Western Parliamentary Caucus, which has a membership of 42 MPs. As leaders from the region we have a strong resolve to revive our industries for the economic welfare of our people,” Ababu said.
His Mumias East counterpart Benjamin Washiali appreciated the efforts by the Government in its bid to revive the company. Mr Washiali, who is the Government’s deputy chief whip in the National Assembly, said they paid the President a courtesy call to discuss how to save Mumias from collapsing.
Last week, there appeared to be major divisions at the caucus when several members visited CORD leader Raila Odinga on the matter of the sugar firm.
Leaders from Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia and Bungoma counties met Raila in a round table discussion at the Laico Regency in Nairobi during which the former Prime Minister promised to push for the revival of the factory.
But the meeting by 15 MPs attracted a backlash from their colleagues in the caucus, who accused them of seeking to politicise the issue.
But Monday, Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe, who was among those who condemned the visit to Raila, said there were no divisions in the caucus as even those who had met the former Prime Minister were part of the State House delegation.
The State House meeting was also attended by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and his Interior counterpart Joseph Nkaissery.