The Parliamentary Caucus on Coffee and Tea, has vowed to go back and re-track on a Tea Policy, that was abandoned in 2014 and make sure they implement it and guide in the process of making the law.
Addressing the media after a fact-finding visit at the Mombasa Tea Auction House, the legislators said that their core duty being to make the law, they will use their legislative tool to make laws and assist and facilitate on Policy making and Sessional paper making.
Led by Chairperson of the Caucus, Githunguri Member of Parliament (MP), Gathoni Wamuchomba, the MPs said that they will review the pending Bill, the Senate Bill that was mutilated in the previous parliament, as it made a very good law that directed farmers on how to trade on coffee and tea.
The members who come from different regions of the country where tea and coffee is grown in large scale, said that it is their collective duty to ensure that they seal the loopholes and make sure the Senate Bill is revisited and issues that oppress farmers and stakeholders, are reviewed.
On taxation, the Chairperson said that they have agreed to collectively lobby the Executive and the Presidency and come-up with better taxing regime that is going to accommodate more of local value addition and more players in the industry, to create more jobs and to improve competitiveness of the tea that is going to be available in the market.
“We are going to escalate our discussions to the Executive even as we concentrate more to ensure that we prepare the legislative tool that is available to us to facilitate the law making process,” said Wamuchomba.
She noted that the country is going through a serious economic recession and the dollar against the shilling is skyrocketing, thus calling upon the stakeholders to understand how the inflation has affected the tea and coffee trade.
“We have agreed that we need to create a rapport, to avoid blame games. We are going to change the style and involve partnerships, so that we can come up with an all-inclusive and comprehensive solution. Our visit is geared towards fact finding, we wanted to understand how tea is traded, what the challenges towards that process and how we can use the parliamentary platform, to provide solutions to the challenges therein,” she said.
MP Kipkelion West Constituency, Hillary Kiplangat, said that tea was the highest source of income to the country in 2021 than tourism, thus calling for the tea sector to also have a stand on its own ministry, which will help in alleviating tea production, marketing and selling.
“Kipkelion Constituency is on the list of tea and coffee farming, which form the coffee and tea caucus, but we have Chilchila Ward that does tea on the other side. Kericho is known for tea and therefore as a leader, I have to participate fully in seeking solutions not only for my Constituency, but also for my County and the Country as a whole,” he said.
EATTA Trade Development Manager, Brian Ngwiri, asked for the removal of VAT in packaging materials, since traders are forced to package the tea in other countries where it’s cheaper and then import back to Kenya.
Ngwiri asked the government to support bilateral trade agreements, as a way to increase market of the tea.
He noted that some trading block trades among themselves and do not allow trade from other countries that are outside that trading bloc.
“Sometimes they restrict entry of products outside the trading block and they want to trade among themselves, so if we can be able to enter some of these trading blocs, then we will be able to penetrate other markets,” he said.
Abdi Hussein, the Vice Chairman of EATTA, said the engagement with the MPs gave them a platform, to raise concerns and challenges in the industry.
Hussein said that they unanimously agreed to present a Memorandum of Understanding that will foster collaboration and good working relations.
By Chari Suche and Shamim Musa