Import deal will result in job losses, claim senators (Daily Nation (Kenya))

Two Cord senators have criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta for signing a sugar trade deal with Ugandan Government.

Siaya Senator James Orengo and his Kisumu counterpart Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o said the deal would kill the sugar trade in Kenya.

They said the importation would affect the economy, especially in western Kenya where farmers depend on sugarcane for their livelihoods.

The leaders said the importation of the alleged cheap sugar from Uganda would lead to the collapse of industries.

If the President proceeds with the deal, Kenyan workers would lose their jobs and many industries would collapse. This would affect our economy and improve the Ugandan one, said Mr Orengo.

PRODUCTION COST

The senators spoke on Saturday in Kathera Village in Meru County during a pre-wedding function.

Although it is right for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa to sign trade deals, Prof Nyong’o said Kenya is among states with the highest sugar production cost.

Malawi, Swaziland and Egypt have the lowest cost of production among the Comesa countries, while Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have the highest. I do not see why sugar should be imported from Uganda, said Senator Nyong’o.

He argued that Uganda does not have surplus sugar and the volume it produces would not cover Kenya’s deficit.

After examining Uganda’s figures, I established that it does not have extra sugar to export to Kenya.

It can only import cheap sugar from Swaziland, Brazil, Malawi or Egypt, repackage it and send it to Kenya. This is akin to smuggling, said Prof Nyong’o.

The lawmakers further said the poor performance of most sugar factories in the western Kenya region is not the farmers fault, but the government’s.

Sugar factories were performing well in 1960’s and 70’s, but corruption, mismanagement of resources and failure by the government to invest in the sector has led to the collapse of some firms while others risk closure, said Prof Nyong’o.

Last week Cord leader Raila Odinga criticised President Kenyatta for signing the sugar importation deal with Uganda, warning it could lead to the total collapse of local millers.

He also questioned the pact that allows Kenya to export beef and dairy products to Uganda, arguing that the country lacks the capacity meet the nation’s needs.