Pyrethrum pensioners to be paid after closure of firm

Sunday August 13 2017

A pyrethrum farm in Bahati, Nakuru. Attorney-General Githu Muigai has initiated the final process of winding up the debt-ridden Pyrethrum Board Staff Superannuation Pension Scheme. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH

A pyrethrum farm in Bahati, Nakuru. Attorney-General Githu Muigai has initiated the final process of winding up the debt-ridden Pyrethrum Board Staff Superannuation Pension Scheme. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH 

By FRANCIS MUREITHI
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When pyrethrum farming was thriving and farmers were earning good income in the 1980s, hundreds of workers at the defunct Pyrethrum Board of Kenya (PBK) were assured of a happy retirement and monthly pension.

But years of mismanagement, corruption and theft of public resources sent the once lucrative sector into a coma. The workers’ hopes of earning pension were thrown into confusion.

Many workers were sent into early retirement while those who were earning monthly pensions saw their pay halted after PBK was unable to remit their statutory dues.

This resulted in massive arrears, which at December 2016 stood at Sh1.4 billion, an amount the current sponsor, Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK), is unable to pay as it is bogged down by other debts running into billions of shillings.

However, this could change in the next couple of months after Attorney-General Githu Muigai initiated the final process of winding up the debt-ridden Pyrethrum Board of Kenya Staff Superannuation Pension Scheme.

The scheme, once the best run in the country in the 1980s, owes pensioners millions of shillings in unpaid dues.

Data available indicates that pensioners have not been paid for the past 48 months. Some have died while waiting for their money.

“I am supposed to go to India for medical treatment but I am unable to do so for lack of money,” said pensioner Robinson Kuria.

Through State Counsel Diana Mumo, the AG has assured pensioners that they will all be paid their dues once the actuarial valuation report is submitted to him in two months.

The scheme has more than 700 pensioners.

The workers filed a winding up suit in the High Court in Nairobi in 2012, which was granted last December.

The AG’s lawyer said it was painful that some of the pensioners had not been paid their monthly dues for the past 47 months.

She spoke at the PPCK offices in Nakuru town when she convened the first meeting with pensioners to set the ball rolling on the liquidation process.

“The actuarial consultants are working round the clock to compile the report,” said Ms Mumo.