Agriculture CS Peter Munya has asked the National Assembly to recommend a forensic audit into the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) properties, saying some assets generating about Sh200 million monthly income are undocumented.
He said the agency had secret assets that did not benefit the small scale tea farmers KTDA was supposed to take care of.
Addressing farmers from Kinoro, Kionyo and Imenti tea factories, Mr Munya accused KTDA’s management of being keen on hiding assets, thus ending up losing colossal amounts.
He told the hundreds of farmers gathered at Kionyo Secondary School grounds that KTDA had formed about 12 companies mainly dealing in businesses that are not its chore mandate, earning profits that farmers did not receive.
Mr Munya, who was accompanied by South Imenti MP Kathuri Murungi, EALA legislator Mpuru Aburi and several MCAs, cited Green Fedha Limited, which advanced farmers their own money at a profit.
The CS also faulted some questionable deals where KTDA deposited Sh5.5 billion and Sh3 billion of farmers’ money at the collapsed Chase and Imperial banks respectively.
Tea regulations Bill
Mr Munya said Parliament had powers to call for a probe without being challenged in court by KTDA as it happened with the tea regulations Bill.
“As we speak, we have information that there is a lot of money that is not accounted for in KTDA books and earns an interest of Sh200 million per month.”
“We have insider information and after investigations start, we shall know the truth. I urge Parliament to pass resolutions calling for forensic audit and if possible, a commission of inquiry. There is no other way we can know the dirt inside,” said Mr Munya.
Once recovered, the assets will be used to form a portion of the tea stabilisation fund, which will be used to finance farmers’ welfare and chip in when the crop is not doing well. It will also help farmers to get affordable fertiliser.
“We went through the Bill with the MPs last week and they will be having a retreat to finalise it so that you start getting benefits as promised by President Kenyatta,” he told the farmers.
The CS said the quest to reform the sector is unstoppable since it was a directive by President Kenyatta.
Meanwhile, a Parliamentary committee on delegated legislation will collect views on the proposed tea sector reforms. It has warned KTDA from attempting to manipulate the feedback.
Committee member Gichimu Githinji told the Nation they will seek to visit as many tea growers as possible, write a report and adopt it in Parliament.
“We have scrutinised the proposals and we are unanimous that they are farmer-friendly.”
Mr Githinji said KTDA must be tamed and restructured to revert to its role as a farmers’ property that executes mandate as per the wishes of the farmer.
This came as tea farmers in Mt Kenya region demanded that the proposed reforms be subjected to a referendum that will see genuine growers cast votes at their factories to endorse them.
They said the ongoing public debates about the reforms are distorted “since KTDA is bribing some fake farmers to go to the media and express opposition.”
At the same time, the Council of Governors (CoG) has changed its position and endorsed the new tea regulations.
Speaking during a farmers’ consultative meeting at Kajiunduthi in Maara yesterday convened by Mr Munya, CoG Agriculture Chairman and Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki said the new regulations will streamline the sub-sector.
Mr Njuki had earlier claimed that the ministry appointed the National Tea Reforms Committee without representation of counties or even consulting COG. Further, he said the ministry went on and gazetted the new regulations for implementation without the input of the devolved governments despite COG sharing a legislative memorandum for consideration.
He said after thorough consultations between CoG and the Ministry of Agriculture, governors had agreed to support the reforms because they will benefit farmers.
He, however, said because Agriculture is devolved, there is need for counties to be fully involved in the reformation process.
Source: Nation Media