Inside Politics

Ruto’s warning to investors eyeing Mumias Sugar

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023 05:30 | By
Ruto’s warning to investors eyeing Mumias Sugar
President William Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Prime Cabinet Minister Musalia Mudavadi and Bungoma County Governor Ken Lusaka during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bungoma county Aggregation and Industrial Park . PICTURE REBECCA NDUKU/PCS

President William Ruto’s second day in Bungoma came with a tough warning to businessmen embroiled in an ownership dispute involving the Mumias Sugar Company.

The President said no private investor had paid any money for the purchase of Mumias Sugar Company and ordered that any court case touching on the miller be withdrawn immediately.

“That company belongs to the public,” he said of the miller whose trading at the Nairobi Securities Exchange was suspended in September 2019. When the stocks were suspended, a court issued a notice, saying the company had been placed under receivership and Ponangipalli Venkata Ramana Rao appointed as the receiver manager “through a deed of appointment of receiver dated September 20, 2019.”

Ramana Rao was replaced by Kereto Marima, whose tenure ended in April last year. And earlier this month, Marima was replaced by Harveen Gadhoke through a court order.  “I have told all those people there to leave,” President Ruto said during a stop in Bungoma yesterday, effectively giving an order that could see the exit of the current receiver manager.

He also said the government had fresh plans to revive the cash-strapped company, including writing off its debts.

His tough stance less than a week after the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u presented to Parliament a request to write off the Sh117 billion owed by the six government-owned millers, including Mumias.

In his memorandum, he also asked MPs to exempt the millers from privatisation and instead allow the government to lease them out. President Ruto echoed the sentiments yesterday. “I have told them they have three options,” he said, without naming names. “They move out of Kenya, I will jail them or they travel to heaven.”

The President also signalled over the weekend that the government had ambitious plans to revive the six sugar millers, which own hundreds of thousands of acres of land under cane, and lease them out to private operators to increase their efficiency and take them back to profitability.  During his tour of the region, the head of State launched the Sh500 million Bungoma County Aggregated Industrial Park at Sang’alo, Kanduyi Sub County, and announced the upgrade of Sang’alo to National Polytechnic status.

Economic potential

The Head of State noted that the first-ever assorted County Parks will serve as a hub for agricultural processing, and manufacturing, and provide employment opportunities for the locals. 

“Our main agenda is to change the lives of our people. The Industrial Park will spur regional development, accelerate the local economy and enhance farmers value chain addition,” he observed.

Governor Kenneth Lusaka said the Industrial Parks will do magic in fostering the County’s economy and improving the lives of residents.

“President Ruto is on a mission to better livelihoods. I must say, the works he has begun will be a footprint,” he said.

The park is set to be a frontier of investment and economic development through increased productivity and sustainable diversification of production.

President Ruto will today tour Vihiga, Musalia’s home turf, to launch development projects.

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