In Summary: – MPs from western met Uhuru on the matter. – President to tour sugar firm to personally present cheque and tour other projects.

The government on Monday released Sh1 billion to the financially struggling Mumias Sugar Company and announced a revival strategy that includes undertaking a rights issue to raise between Sh3 billion and Sh4 billion.

President Uhuru Kenyatta will tour the sugar firm on Wednesday to personally present the cheque as well as assess progress on the revival of Pan Paper Mills in Webuye and the ailing Nzoia Sugar factory.

MPs from western Kenya put aside their political affiliations and met President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto at State House to push for the revival of the industries in a region whose economic mainstay is agriculture.

Mr Kenyatta said politics should be kept out of efforts to revive the company that is the livelihood of thousands of families in the region.

“The meeting discussed a four-point turnaround strategy for Mumias Sugar Company that includes appointment of a professional management team, injection of funds based on a viable plan, undertaking a rights issue to raise between Sh3 and 4 billion, and rescheduling of debts the company owes financial institutions,” he said.

The release of funds for the recovery of the key sugar company proves the government’s commitment to supporting cane farmers, he added.

“We are keen on reviving the sugar company because we know it will benefit farmers. We strongly believe that it will support the economy of western region. This has nothing to do with politics,” said President Kenyatta.

Deputy President William Ruto said Mumias had a capacity to operate at a profit through prudent management.

PUT ASIDE DIFFERENCES

Western Parliament Caucus led by their Chairman, Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba said the leaders were ready to put aside their political differences and unite to fight for the economic welfare of their region.

“We must draw a firm line between this very noble regional economic agenda and political affiliations. As western leaders, we are firmly focused on the economic empowerment of our people. As written in the book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, there is a time for everything. Let us empower our people now, then politic when the time is ripe,” said Mr Namwamba, who is ODM secretary-general.

Lugari MP Ayub Savula said the meeting also discussed the progress of reviving the collapsed Pan Paper and privatisation of Nzoia Sugar Company.

“The President will tour Mumias Sugar Factory on Wednesday to present the cheque. We did not talk anything regarding politics; just the welfare of our people,” he said.

A myriad issues that include sugar cane poaching, where the company is said to have lost over Sh7 billion, smuggling in of cheaper sugar from neighbouring countries and management issues, have contributed to the financial troubles bedeviling Mumias.

Once lauded as the best miller to have embraced diversification after investing in a water bottling plant, power co-generation, and an ethanol distillery, Mumias is now a pale shadow of its former self.