President Uhuru Kenyatta’s double standards and hoodwinking of the Western Kenya voters was exposed recently when he ordered a debt waiver of more than Kshs. 2.4 billion for coffee farmers in Central Kenya.
While in Western Kenya President Kenyatta expedited and presided over the selling of the more than Kshs.15 billion Pan-Paper Mills factory in Webuye at a throw away price and hoodwinked sugarcane farmers in Western with a token loan of Kshs. 2 billion to Mumias Sugar Company.
During his recent official tour of Central Kenya he publicly announced that his government was going to waive coffee famers’ debts amounting into billions of shillings that they owed financial institutions but on the contrary during his last tours of Western Kenya the money he released to salvage the beleaguered giant Mumias Sugar Company was a loan from the Kenya Sugar Board.
The Central Kenya President’s tour in Murang’a County alone he waived off coffee farmers’ debts to the tune of more than Kshs. 2.4 billion and the story does not stop there since coffee farmers in other counties were also showered with debt relief.
Indeed President Kenyatta has also written off Kshs. 2 billion coffee debts during his Kirinyaga tour of that county – Uhuru asked the farmers to collect the title deeds they had deposited offered as security.
He was widely quoted as saying that: “I urge farmers whose debts have been written off to use any credit they receive to develop their farms and not spend it on frivolous pursuits”, Speaking while addressing Kirinyaga residents, the President also urged the farmers to take back their title deeds that were tied to the loans.
The writing off of the debts comes after farmers petitioned Uhuru to ensure all the debts are settled, terming them a huge drawback to better returns. In July, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said the government set aside Kshs. 700 million to scrap off the debts which will free farmers who have been losing money every season repaying the loans. The loans were accumulated decades ago when coffee farming faced hurdles.
The National Debt Write-off Programme was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta, then Finance minister, in December 2011 but ironically the sugarcane farmers’ and related institutions’ debts have never been waived by the government.
Pan-Paper factory’s debts had accumulated to Kshs. 600 million to the Kenya Power and Lighting Company but instead of the debt being waived the company was sold at a throw away price to the Rai-Ply Group which also owns West Kenya Sugar Company that is directly responsible for the cane poaching crisis that has gripped the western Kenya region for more than five years.
The crisis has directly adversely affected the performance of Mumias Sugar Company since its contracted farmers were and are still directly targeted in the cane poaching operations executed by West Kenya which does not have any contracted farmers to its credit.
The Rai-Ply Group which also played a central role in the collapse of Pan-Paper Mills as the only competitor for the timer raw material bought the company at a throw away price of Kshs. 900 million thus bringing into question why President Kenyatta did not waive the paper milling company’s Kshs. 600 million instead of selling the multi-billion shillings only paper manufacturing Company in Kenya?
It is also on record that the selling of the company was expedited and Presided over by President Kenyatta who was present during the taking over of the factory by the Rai-Ply Group operatives led by its boss Taj Rai – whose West Kenya is involved in illegal and economic sabotage activities in Western Kenya.
Indeed it goes without saying that even during the retired President Mwai Kibaki’s tenure, his administration many times waived loans that farmers, particularly coffee farmers, but the same was never extended to farmers in other parts of the country.
This brings into question why President Uhuru extends debts or loans to Western Kenya region instead of waiving them under the National Debt Write-off Programme as he is doing in Central Kenya and ordering the farmers to go and collect their title deeds that had been tied up in the banks that they owed.