Kidnapped Rai Urged Regulator to Cut Administrative Cost on Sugar Levy in Last Public Forum
Jaswant Rai, a billionaire who has been kidnapped, requested the Sugar Directorate to reduce administrative costs from the development levy and allocate more funding towards cane development in his last public meeting on Tuesday.
Mr Rai was making reference to the proposed Sugar Bill that is currently before the parliament, which among other things, is proposing the re-introduction of the Sugar Development Levy (SDL), which had been abolished previously.
Mr Rai, who controls at least half of sugar production in Kenya, was reported missing on Friday by his family and police have opened investigations on his whereabouts.
A video provided by the family shows the business mogul, who owns Kabras Sugar, Olepito, Naitiri and Sukari, was abducted by unknown people in Kilimani and moved to a waiting car that sped off.
The bill was introduced to parliament last week and if it sails through, it will see the Sugar Directorate, which is currently under the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) become an autonomous body.
“I would suggest that we reduce the amount that is spent on administrative cost out of the Sugar Development Levy to a lower figure so that most of this fund goes towards the development of sugarcane and infrastructure in cane growing zones,” said Mr Rai during a sugar stakeholder forum held at Kilimo House last week.
Mr Rai pointed out that channeling more funds to the farmer from the SDL will play a significant role in boosting production in the sector, which is currently grappling with unavailability of cane.
The meeting was attended by all sugar millers in the country, farmers lobby groups and top officials from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The forum was meant to discuss the current shortage in the sugar sector after AFA stopped millers from western Kenya and Nyando region from milling in order to curb the harvesting of immature cane that has subjected farmers to losses.