Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has read the riot act to millers and grain importers who were granted duty waiver licenses by the government to import maize flour and rice.
In a meeting held at Kilimo House on Tuesday, the CS said he had noted under performance by the millers and grain importers in the importation of maize and rice since less than 10% of the commodities have been imported after they were granted import duty waiver by the Government in December 2022. So far only 90,621 MT of maize and 95,381 MT of rice have arrived in the country according to official data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
The Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development granted millers and grain importers a duty waiver of 1.4 MT of maize and 1.1 MT of Rice in December 2022 in a bid to lower the prices of maize flour and rice in the country.
The Cabinet Secretary issued a 7-day ultimatum to the millers and grain importers holding duty-free licenses to show proof of trade documents to ascertain that they have begun importing the commodities or risk their licenses being revoked. He also declared that no maize and rice will be imported after August 2023 when the duty waiver permits expire. The expiry was timed to coincide with the harvests from farmers in the country.
The Cabinet Secretary warned some unscrupulous millers and traders alleged to have imported maize and rice under the tax waiver quota and attempted to re-export the same grains to neighbouring countries that they are under investigation and if found guilty will face the full extent of the law.
Already a government multi-agency team has impounded some grains that were being re-exported to neighbouring countries since they were imported under the duty-free arrangement to boost efforts by the government to lower food prices in the country.
In a bid to boost efforts to reduce the price of maize flour and rice, the CS has further offered millers and grain importers who have already imported their duty-free consignments an additional allocation to import the commodities under the duty-free arrangement.