KENYA – Kenyan legislators have accused millers of breaching the subsidy deadline deal, a situation which might delay payment of KES2.9 billion (US$22 million) which millers claim the government owes them, Business Daily reported.
The maize subsidy was an initiative by retired President Uhuru Kenyatta that was aimed at stemming the high-cost flour that had hit KES230 for a two-kilogram packet.
Payment to millers has however been delayed over disagreement on the amount that the state owes the millers.
The Committee on Agriculture in the National Assembly had earlier paused any payments to further interrogate the matter and is now saying that some millers might have extended the supply by up to six days after the contract between them and the State had been revoked
In their defense, Millers who were part of the scheme noted that they had not received any official communication notifying them of the termination of the program.
They noted that the letter from the Ministry of Agriculture that the legislators were citing was not addressed to them but meant for Agriculture PS from the Cabinet Secretary.
However, Francis Owino, then Crop Development, and Agricultural Research Principal Secretary had said that he wrote to some of the millers informing them that the subsidy was ending on August 18, 2022.
In a rebuttal, millers noted that there were government officers in each of the milling stations, who verified the amount of flour that was released to the market.
The pronouncement follows the recent move by the parliament to reject the disbursement with claims that the government was unable to trace those who benefited from the program.
Earlier on, the Budget and Appropriations Committee chairperson Ndindi Nyoro had also said that the payment is being rejected on the account of non-disclosure of the quantity of maize supplied and the areas in which the subsidized flour was supplied
However, it was recommended that the Auditor-General would open an audit query on the subsidy programs to dig into the truth in an exercise that millers say was executed within the set framework of the previous government
Millers said that so far, the interest accrued from the Sh2.9 billion that the government owes them has hit Sh280 million adding that the debt was impacting their businesses which are already being affected by an acute shortage of maize.
Millers have further faulted the move by the committee to reject disbursement of their pending amount, terming the move as unfair, given that they had made supplies.