Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi has asked the government to ignore calls for more consultations over the leasing of sugar factories and instead hasten the process of leasing the mills to private investors.
Wandayi, who is also chairman of Public Accounts Committee in parliament, said those behind calls for suspension of the leasing programme were insensitive to the plight of sugarcane farmers who have suffered for decades because of mismanagement of publicly owned factories.
Speaking in Ugunja town in Siaya County, the MP who was flanked by Sidindi ward Member of the County Assembly Joseph Wandera, urged the government to work within the timelines outlined by the cabinet secretary for Agriculture.
“Let us have the factories run by those with the capacity,” he said adding “asking for extension of time for more consultation or formation of task forces in my view is time wasting, diversionary and insensitive to the plight of the long suffering farmers”.
Wandayi said that leaders in the western part of the country, that comprises Nyanza region, have agitated for so long for the revamping of the sugar sub sector and now that the government has come up with a good option, it was prudent that local leaders support it.
“If we really want to save our sugarcane farmers and the economy of the western part of Kenya, this is the way to go. We have consulted and talked enough and brought in as many stakeholders as we could,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wandayi has challenged the government to be transparent about the way it was spending Covid-19 funds.
He said that there was a lot of hue and cry from the public over the way both national and county governments were spending the billions of shillings set aside to fight the pandemic that has so far claimed over 300 lives, with more than 20,000 Kenyans testing positive.
“In my view, the hue and cry is because of the opaqueness that seems to be the order of the day both at the national and county governments,” said the PAC chairman adding “National and county governments must transparently tell the public how this money is being utilised on a daily basis.”
Wandayi said Covid-19 was an eye-opener that exposed the country’s lack of preparedness in the health sector.
The legislator said it was not enough for the government to tell Kenyans that it had purchased personal protective equipment for the health staff, adding that it was high time the country agreed on the basic minimum amount to be channelled towards infrastructural development of health facilities in each corner of the country.
Wandayi said those managing the Covid-19 funds were doing so on behalf of Kenyans and were therefore duty bound to be transparent and open.
By Philip Onyango