The CS argues that his ministry has allowed importers to bring in cheaper sugar to complement available stocks from millers who he argued had made a pledge to sell within the recommended limits.

“It is very serious. In fact a week ago, the prices started coming down. Kenyans and businessmen should learn that when anything happens, they should not be the only beneficiaries,” he said.

EXORBITANT PRICES

His ministry has been fighting fires from a grumbling population lately, as consumers complain of scarce maize flour, expensive milk and exorbitant sugar prices.

On Wednesday, he claimed 500ml pack of processed milk should retail at Sh50 or less and that anyone selling beyond this will be “dealt with.”

His comments, though, did not explain how those traders who claimed they had obtained stock at higher prices, or spent their money to ferry the goods for a distance will be recompensed.

Last month, he launched a subsidy programme on the flour, a staple food in the country, meant to reduce price of a 2-kilogramme pack from Sh160 to Sh90.

But the flour disappeared from shops as traders argued there were little returns on the sales.

PROPER TRACKING

His ministry blamed cartels in return, as consumer lobby, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek), called for the programme to be stopped until its proper tracking is established.

Cofek Secretary-General Stephen Mutoro claimed that cartels were benefiting from the subsidy by buying maize cheaply from grain reserves but selling it to consumers at the price of their choice.

“In any subsidy programme, there will always be challenges, there will always be people who would want to cut corners…that is why we concentrated on structured millers because that was the best way to track movement of these commodities,” said CS Bett.

On Wednesday, he said there should be no more expensive flour because “more ships have arrived in the country,” with white maize.

“The business on the green maize is happening now. So, really, the intensity of what you could call the intensity of food shortage is very much suppressed now.

“But as we get more supplies now, we will be moving down the stream to even the posho millers so that they can supply at subsidised prices,” added the CS.

COURTESY: DAILY NATION/Aggrey Mutambo

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