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Action to contain rising food prices commendable - Esipisu

Sunday May 21 2017

Mr Manoah Esipisu said the Government has taken action to contain rising food prices.

A shopper checks the price of a packet of maize at a Nakumatt supermarket in Nairobi on May 18, 2017. State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the government has taken action to contain rising food prices. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

COLLINS OMULO
By COLLINS OMULO
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The government has hit back at critics of the recent maize flour subsidy offered by the Ministry of Agriculture, saying it had helped to stabilise the price of the national staple food.

State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said in a statement that the government is determined to bring down the price of unga.

However, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto, the Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party leader and Nasa co-principal, said Kenyans in rural areas are yet to access the subsidised flour.

"Rural folks have no access to supermarkets. They are a starving lot who need an immediate solution.

"You cannot continue eating meat when the people you are leading are starving," he said.

But Mr Esipisu said the subsidy is beneficial to Kenyans because it solves the cost problem.

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"The bottom line for us is that unga is affordable again to the ordinary Kenyan and no matter the amount of debate or the amount of inquisition, there is likely nothing that can be done to change the fact that a two-kilogramme packet of unga costs Sh90. That is just a simple fact," Mr Esipisu.

NATIONWIDE DROUGHT
He blamed the rising food prices, especially of maize meal, on the reduced maize yields occasioned by drought.

"It is not lost on many of us that our region has endured one of the most severe droughts in our history. Our production of maize and supply of food have been strained," he explained.

Governor Ruto said people in rural areas did not require maize flour but the grain itself as they are used to milling it for themselves and using it to cook githeri (a mixture of beans and maize).

Speaking at a CCM rally at Olbutyo trading centre in Chepalungu constituency, Mr Ruto accused cartels in the corridors of power of creating an artificial maize shortage and importing the commodity to profiteer from it.

SGR LAUNCH

Aside from the food issue, Mr Esipisu said President Uhuru Kenyatta will commission the first phase of the standard gauge railway (SGR) next week.

"We expect that the President will officiate at events on the container terminal at the standard gauge railway on May 30 and then take the ride from Mombasa to Nairobi on May 31," he said at State House.

The spokesman said President Kenyatta will make a number of stops along the way to commission some of the new stations as well as address residents in some of the counties that the SGR passes through.

China is sending a delegation of senior State officers to the launch.

STATE PROJECTS
On international relations, the spokesman said the country had attracted billions of shillings in investments from the recent tours by the President to the United Kingdom and China.

He cited the multibillion-shilling investment by the BBC in new multimedia production studios in Kenya that will create 250 jobs, a Sh2.5 billion investment by Kericho Gold on a plant in Mombasa that is expected to employ 10,000 workers and Equinox Energy Capital’s Sh2.5 billion hyacinth-to-energy plant in Homa Bay as some of the takeaways from the UK.

Another Sh400 billion was agreed on during the visit to China that will finance the Lamu Coal Power energy project as well as the new special economic zone in Eldoret.

GLOBAL FORUM
Mr Esipisu said the President is also expected to attend the 43rd G7 summit in Sicily, Italy.

Ethiopia, Tunisia and Nigeria have also been invited to represent the interests of the African continent at the talks.

Additional reporting by Geoffrey Rono