The government has been asked to fully implement recommendations of the Sugar taskforce to save the ailing sector.
Farmers and leaders from the sugar belt asked President Uhuru Kenyatta who created the task force in November last year to act on the report which is before Cabinet.
Speaking in Kisumu on Friday during a consultative meeting between the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), Sugar subsector stakeholders and the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture, they said the report was the only solution to issues bedeviling the sector.
Kakamega County Governor Wycliffe Oparanya who co-chaired the taskforce with Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mwangi Kiunjuri said the meeting was called by the agriculture committee to help marry recommendations of the taskforce and the sugar bill 2019 which is before the committee.
Oparanya lauded efforts by the members to develop the bill which he said will form a legal framework to implement reforms in the sector.
The sugar industry, he said was in a mess after the Sugar Act 2001 was repealed urging the MP’s to ensure that the bill is farmer driven.
“This is a good initiative but we urge you to come up with a farmer driven bill to help our farmers and address the issues affecting the sub-sector,” said Oparanya.
Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o said the bill must come out strongly on the issue of taxation adding over taxation on sugar was one of the major problems facing the industry. Nyong’o said sugar must be classified as food so that it is exempted from Value Added Tax (VAT).
Speaking during the same occasion, Devolution Cabinet Secretary (CS) Eugene Wamalwa said the report was before cabinet adding that the President will give a way forward on the matter soon.
Wamalwa lauded the Sugar Bill 2019 sponsored by Kanduyi Member of Parliament (MP) Wafula Wamunyinyi saying the bill alongside the taskforce recommendation were key in resuscitating the sector.
He urged the MPs to incorporate the findings of the sugar taskforce alongside the rules and regulations prepared by the agriculture ministry to streamline the sector once and for all.
The meeting convened by LREB, he said, was a clear demonstration of how regional blocs can be used as vehicles to transform the country.
He disclosed that the Devolution ministry was finalizing a policy to guide on the establishment and operations of regional economic blocs in the country.
By Chris Mahandara