A Parliamentary committee has petitioned the government to jump-start operations in public sugar mills to rescue the companies from debts. The Labour and Social Welfare committee, chaired by Bomet Central member of parliament Ronald Tanui, also recommended that the State pumps in more money to revitalise the struggling cane factories before privatisation. Chemelil factory alone, the committee said, requires Sh258 million to get back to business. Tanui said that the sugar sector holds a bigger stake in the Kenyan workforce and economy hence the need for urgent interventions to salvage it from sinking further. He said the State-owned sugar factories were already staring at huge debts owed to employees and farmers. Workers arrears The lawmaker asked the government to fast-track the process of clearing factories workers arrears, saying the soaring debts were detrimental to the operations of the sugar mills. \u201cThe biggest problem we have in the country is unemployment which is likely to worsen if we do not improvise measures to sustain the sugar industry,\u201d said Tanui when he led the delegation in a tour of Muhoroni and Chemelil on Friday to get the views of mill employees over delayed payments. The committee visit to the two factories came following a petition made by Kenya Union of Plantation Workers for parliament to look into solutions of the pending workers arrears. According to Tanui, the employees at Chemelil alone are owed Sh844 million in salary arrears which has accumulated for 17 months. Nyatike MP Tom Odege and his Muhoroni counterpart Onyango Koyoo urged the government to prioritise plans on the revival of the cane millers before the proposal to sell them off is anchored. Odege claimed that cartels interested in buying the companies at cheaper prices were keen on seeing their downfall.