Who benefits from campaign goodies?

Sunday July 16 2017

Henry Karuti a miraa farmer and trader at Muringene market in Meru on July 12, 2016. FILE PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL

Henry Karuti a miraa farmer and trader at Muringene market in Meru on July 12, 2016. From Sh1bn set apart for miraa farmers to maize and fertiliser subsidies, the real beneficiaries are unknown FILE PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL 

By EDWIN OKOTH
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With piles of campaign goodies valued at billions of shillings falling fast as election draws closer, questions are now emerging on whether the gifts add value to their target beneficiaries and more so, whether the intended people actually get them in the first place.

The favours ranging from subsidies, debt waivers and stimulant packages have largely been dished out in the past one year as the ruling coalition seeks to woo voters for a second term.

While there are fears that government officials may take advantage of the billions and swindle the electorate in the long run, greedy businessmen and middlemen have lined up to make a kill from the various duty free commodity imports meant to ease economic pressure for the public.

Economic experts contacted by the Nation said although the goodies will eventually become an economic burden for the taxpayer, the real benefits largely remain far from reach from those they are intended.

The experts argue that the duty waivers are designed and implemented in opaqueness that leaves huge loophole for tax evasion, overpricing and hoarding, and benefiting few individuals.

On the other hand, lack of monitoring and follow up coupled with the haste of campaign goodies has left many grants and subsidies unaccounted for over time.

Questions have already emerged over the expenditure of the Sh1 billion that was given to the miraa farmers to cushion them from losses they incurred after Kenya lost key export markets in the West.

Traders in the industry now contend that the money may have been largely misused in meetings and drafting a report while the farmers are yet to find any relief, a year after it was entrenched into the budget.

Miraa task force

Nyambene Miraa Traders Association chairman Kimathi Munjuri told the Nation that efforts to get clarifications on how the Sh1 billion has been spent so far have been in vain forcing them to move to court to block the releases of the Sh12 billion given to implement the Miraa Task Force Report.

“We cannot tell where the money ended up and we feel pain when the Sh1 billion awarded to miraa farmers is mentioned in many places when here we have nothing.

It is difficult to know how exactly the money was spent and now that we suspect some few individuals have benefited from the President’s gesture meant for miraa farmers,” Mr Munjiri said.

The traders allege that Ministry of Agriculture received some Sh850 million raising questions where the Sh150 million went to.

Another Sh207 million was used in local travel costs, training and hospitality supplies and services. 

The traders refuted claims that they have received any support like purchase of certified seeds and breeding animals which are said to have gobbled some Sh521 million.

“Since miraa has no seeds and we do not know anyone amongst ourselves who has had their livestock improved, this is a dilemma.

"Lastly, Sh122 million was put into rehabilitation of civil works. What this is about is beyond us,” the group said in a summary of what they said was a summary they had found from their “own sources”.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett did not respond to our questions regarding the Sh1 billion given to the miraa farmers as calls and text messages to his mobile phone number went unanswered. 

Such concerns continue to cloud the various billions granted in the heat of the campaigns including those meant for farmers in subsidies and debt waivers.