CS Linturi Asks for Extension on Duty-Free Sugar Imports to Prevent Surge in Prices

Sugar prices

The Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has asked the government to extend the importation of duty-free sugar to substitute the local production shortage.

In a letter to the Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u, Linturi cited the need to extend the existing waiver which facilitates the importation of sugar from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

According to the CS, sugar prices are set to rise in April, as the current window on duty-free imports expires.

“The purpose of this memo is, therefore, to brief you on the current status in the country and recommend your approval to extend the Gazette Notice 14093 dated October 13, 2023, and Gazette Notice No. 10358 dated 2024 to June 30, 2024,” the letter by Linturi reads in part.

Linturi further proposed a two-month extension on the waiver set to end on April 6, to cater for the country’s needs on one of the most consumed commodities.

In the letter, Linturi notes that the country needs to secure an additional 720,000 tonnes of sugar for the period between January 2024 and August 2024, from both imports and local production.

However, local production only caters for a certain percentage of the commodity required, leaving a deficit of 192,000 tonnes to imports.

Previously, a three-month halt on local sugar production saw the prices rise to Ksh450 per 2kg bag. With the importation of duty-free sugar, the current prices stand at Ksh390 per 2kg bag of sugar.

The country is allowed to import a total of 350,000 tonnes of sugar through COMESA.

According to several Gazette Notices published between December 2022 and October 2023, the government approved a total of 820,00 tonnes of sugar to be imported from outside the COMESA.

A report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network has projected an increase in prices for fuel and other basic food commodities, owing to the current supply market.

“Global crude prices are expected to increase in the second quarter of 2024 due to falling global inventories,” the report highlighted.

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A petrol assistant attending to a vehicle (left) and Kenyans at a supermarket In Nairobi County. FILE SHOP IN KENYA
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