EDITORIAL: Don’t misuse maize import window
Sunday, May 5, 2019 22:00
For the umpteenth time, Kenya will by July be opening the duty-free maize import window in one of the efforts to cushion the consumer from the rising flour prices. While maize harvest improved 20 percent to 40.9 million bags last year, a grain shortage is expected. Already the maize flour price has risen 30 percent in the last one month on limited grain stocks.
The price of a 90kg bag is at Sh3,400, from Sh2,300 in February and is forecast to go past Sh5,000 mark this year without State intervention.
Ordinarily, the imports should keep the price stable or deliver cheaper flour considering maize flour is Kenya’s staple.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri says plans are in the pipeline to deliver the said maize, including a 50 percent duty waiver on imported grain from outside East Africa Community (EAC).
However, while the ministry has launched the programme early “to avoid the last-minute rush” according to Mr Kiunjuri, we ask those involved to ensure that the window is not abused for it to make sense.
Getting the waiver right requires elaborate rules, monitoring, and water-tight consultations. Past mistakes that nearly hurt such noble intentions should not be repeated.