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Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri Comes Clean on NCPB Saga

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri. FILE

Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri on Tuesday delivered an extensive press briefing concerning delayed payments owed to maize farmers by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) .

The CS pointed out that two traders were paid Sh13.9 million in June even after the EACC stopped payments to maize farmers pending investigations.

According to documents on pending bills for maize purchase for 2017-18, Antony Kipngetich supplied 10,935 50kg bags of maize to Kisumu depot and was paid Sh8.2 million in June 26.

Another trader, Isaiah Kipkemei, supplied 13,964, 50kg bags and received Sh5.7 million on June 18, Kiunjuri said.

“These two individuals were paid even with clear instructions to the National Cereals and Produce Board from the EACC and the ministry not to make any more payments from April to pave way for investigations following irregularities in payment of farmers,” the CS told journalists.

Kiunjuri brushed off demands by some Kenyans to resign, following the maize crisis. The CS said if implicated, he will resign but so far he has done his work diligently.

“I’m being crucified for sins I have not committed. The EACC and the DCI are to blame for the slow pace of investigations on issues of payment for maize deliveries,” Kiunjuri said.

“I’m disappointed by the manner and pace in which this matter has proceeded in the hands of the investigative agencies.”

Kiunjuri stated that he had a list of 152 people under investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over irregular payments.

Connected traders, individuals and cartels colluded with senior state officials and were paid promptly for massive quantities of cheap, imported maize at the expense of local farmers, many of whom have still not yet been paid.

The ministry established that the individuals delivered a total of two million 50kg bags of maize of the overall 6.52 million bags received at the NCPB.

They were paid about Sh2 billion and are still claiming Sh1.4 billion to date.

“It is interesting to note they were paid between 63 to 90 per cent of their delivered quantities by December 2017, amounting to Sh2.053 billion and are claiming an additional Sh1.470 billion,” Kiunjuri said.

He said the ministry has received Sh9.4 billion, which includes the Sh7 billion that was paid between October 2017 and February 2018. Some Sh1 billiont was paid in May and Sh1.4 billion was paid this month.

“Of the Sh1 billion received in May 2018, 1,200 farmers were paid. The Sh1.4 billion received on September 20, was to clear 900 farmers who had been vetted and cleared by the Multi-Agency Verification Team, ” he said.

Kinjuri admitted that President Uhuru Kenyatta was disappointed by the issue, with the President having recently been captured appearing to scold Kiunjuri after commenting on the NCPB fiasco at the Nairobi International Trade Fair.

The CS, however, on Tuesday told off his ‘haters’ whom he promised to deal with in due time.

“To my haters, I have listened to you carefully, even on social media. Some of you are politically frustrated.
“You look for anything to make yourself relevant. I assure that when the right time and moment comes I will deal with you. I rest my case,” he declared.

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