Kenya: MPs want anti-graft agency to investigate how KRA allowed unlicensed company to destroy condemned sugar

Parliament has called for an investigation by the anti-graft agency into how the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) allowed an unlicensed company to destroy condemned sugar, which was subsequently repackaged and sold to unsuspecting Kenyans. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is to conduct the probe within two months of the report’s passage, which is currently before Parliament, reported local media Star.

The report, accuses KRA, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), and the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) of neglecting their duties. These agencies were part of a multi-agency team responsible for overseeing the destruction of the sugar, which had been condemned for failing basic quality tests.

“The committee finds Kebs, Nema, and AFA the most responsible, as they had a major supervisory role in the final distillation process,” said National Assembly Trade Committee Chairman James Gakuya. The report was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

The 20,000 bags of sugar, each weighing 50kg, were shipped from Zimbabwe to Mombasa on June 30, 2018, but mysteriously disappeared from Vinepack Ltd’s warehouse in Thika. The sugar had been rejected by Kebs for failing to meet standards, including lacking a manufacturing date label.

KRA had permitted Vinepack to convert the sugar to ethanol for industrial use, not for human consumption. However, MPs suspect KRA’s decision to award the contract to Vinepack was questionable, as the company was not licensed by the Sugar Directorate to carry out distillation.

“There was no proof even from Vinepack Ltd that the company was duly licensed by the Sugar Directorate,” the report reads. “It is thus the finding of the committee that KRA awarded the tender in contravention of the provisions of Section 55(a)(a) of the Public Procurements Asset Disposal Act No 33 of 2015.”

The committee, led by Gakuya, urges the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to pursue the criminal aspects of the tender award. They recommend that within 60 days of the report’s adoption, the Inspector General should investigate the conduct of all KRA officials involved in the process, leading to the conversion of the condemned sugar and recommend appropriate legal action.

“The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission should investigate the procurement process leading to the award of the tender to Vinepack Industry Ltd by KRA and take requisite legal action,” the report states.


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