MPs now want tea agency audited after dip in bonus

Thursday, September 26th, 2019 00:00 |
Bureti MP Japheth Mutai (left) addresses the media in Nairobi, yesterday. With him are his counterparts Brighton Yegon for Konoin (centre) and Dominic Koskei (Sotik), who were among eight MPs who decried low payments to farmers for tea sold by Kenya Tea Development Agency. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Members of the National Assembly now want a special audit on the operations of the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) after it announced a 30 per cent decline in bonuses issued.

The legislators also want all brokerage firms scraped and a new semi-autonomous body formed to deal with tea farmer’s issues while demanding that KTDA operations revert to the national government following the drop in the issue of bonuses.

Addressing a news conference yesterday, eight Members of Parliament from the rift region claimed KTDA had been taken over by cartels and is being operated like a personal business.

They resolved to summon Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and KTDA top officials over the matter.

The eight legislators, who include Dominic Koskei (Sotik), Japheth Mutai (Bureti), Beatrice Kones (Bomet East), Brighton Yegon (Konoin), Sammy Seronei (Nominated MP) and Caleb Kositany (Soi) also attributed variances in the bonuses to alleged secret operations within KTDA.

Brokerage firms

The MPs claimed the 11 brokerage firms a link between farmers and KTDA, have been taking advantage of growers resulting in the latter getting a raw deal this year.

“Why should one entity take the monopoly? We should have another body licensed so that there is competition. 

“Everything around KTDA is shrouded in secrecy and is controlled by cartels,” said Koskei

Yegon regretted that no one had scrutised KTDA’s books of accounts, as certain individuals have made the authority a personal business.

In particular, he regretted that KTDA had invested farmers’ money in dubious firms, including those ran by some directors. 

The agency, Yegon said, saved farmers Sh4.1 billion in Chase and Imperial banks that have since gone under receivership.

“KTDA is full of cartels; its books of accounts are questionable as no one knows what they are doing. 

“This is the reason why we need a full audit of the operations of that institution,” he said.

Kositany said they would ask the CS responsible to appear before the House to explain why bonuses have dropped this year.

“We will push to know how much revenue the institution collects and how they calculate bonuses for the farmers. 

“I can assure you that we will be taking this matter to the floor of the House,” he said.

The sentiments by the MPs come after KTDA said bonus payments for small-scale tea farmers would drop by 30 per cent.

 They attributed the significant drop to what they termed to as a glut in the international market.

The current prices are the lowest the State agency has fetched in 10 years.

Low demand

Currently, a kilogramme of tea is selling at $2.4 (Sh248.9) at the Mombasa auction compared to $4 (Sh414.84) previously.

In the last two months, there has been a sharp decline in tea prices occasioned by low demand for the commodity.  

Tea prices have been on an upward trend in the last five years before a sharp decline hit the market.  In 2012, Kenya exported more than 350 million kilogrammes. Exports rose to 440 million kgs before a small decline in 2014 to 432 million kgs. Last year, about 490 million kgs was sold abroad.

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