Release Sh2.5bn subsidised flour cash, millers urge State

Paloma Fernandes

Cereal Millers Association (CMA) CEO Paloma Fernandes during a function in March last year.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Cereal Millers Association (CMA) have said they do not have plans to hold the government to ransom to release Sh2.5 billion that they are owed by the government under the Unga subsidy programme that was carried out last year under the administration of former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

CMA chairperson Mohammed Islam, while appearing before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Agriculture and Livestock, also said that most of the small-scale millers have been auctioned due to the debt owed by the government.

“We plead with the government to release the money that is owed to the millers because some millers have been auctioned by banks for failing to service the loans that they took to finance their activities during the subsidy programme,” Mr Islam said.

Members of the committee, led by chairperson John Mutunga, put the millers on task to explain why they should be paid the amount yet the Sh100 unga did not reach the shelves of most of the retail stores in the country.

Gatundu South MP Gabriel Kagombe asked the millers to present evidence that they supplied the subsidised Sh100 Unga to retail outlets in the country.

CMA chief executive Paloma Fernandes absolved the association of any responsibility over the lack of the subsidised unga on the shelves and told the committee their role ended at the distributor.

“We had a command centre made up of various stakeholders that was put in place to ensure that the unga reached Kenyans in the retail stores. We sold a packet of unga at Sh90 and it was supposed to be sold at Sh100 at the retail outlets. After issuing credit notes, our role ended and the rest was to be carried out by the government,” Ms Paloma said.

The millers also told the committee that in addition to the principal Sh2.5 billion owed, the government is also required to pay Sh257 million in interest