Parliament has tasked the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to produce a strategic plan that will be used to reduce sugar prices in the country.
State Minister, Michael Werikhe Kafabusa yesterday presented a ministerial statement on the floor of the House on the current sugar situation in the country.
In the statement, the Minister said government was concerned by the escalating prices of sugar. In response, he said the Ministry has held meetings with millers and distributors and found out that the cause was a 9 month drought which led to harvesting of immature sugar cane.
Werikhe said the result was an increment in demand of sugar causing a gap of 300,000 metric tons in Kenya and 40,000 metric tons In Rwanda.
“The government has urged the millers to ensure that the factories maintain normal production; in this regard, Kakira Sugar on May 12, 2017 resumed normal production and postponed its regular maintenance,” Werikhe said.
Werikhe said that the Ministry is committed to continue monitoring sugar supply stocks from millers, distributors and retailers to ensure that the retail price of sugar does not exceed Shs5, 000 per kilogram.
The statement reveals that the sugar prices on the market have significantly dropped from Shs8, 500 to Shs5, 000 per kilogram.
“The Ministry strongly condemns any continuous hoarding and speculation in the sugar market in the country; if these malpractices persist, the Ministry will be compelled to take alternative measures,” Werikhe noted.
However, the Minister’s explanations were not positively received by members who faulted the statement for being shallow with no workable strategies that would reduce the high costs of sugar.
Kamuli Municipality MP, Rhema Wetongola argued that the price of sugar set by the Ministry is still high and unaffordable for the people she represents.
Wetongola asked the minister to find ways of getting the price back to Shs 3000 a kilogram.
Mukono South MP, Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga also demanded that government finds means of dealing with speculators who buy sugar from factories and later sell it to traders at higher prices during the times of scarcity.
“We ask the Minister to deal with speculators most of whom are government officials whose aim is to always cause stock outs at factories so as to sell to business men at high prices,” Ssenyonga noted.
The Minister was later asked by the Speaker to return to the house at a later date with a statement that has well laid out strategies that will help reduce sugar prices to affordable costs.