Kenyan authorities have suspended 27 civil servants on suspicion of misappropriating about 1,000 tonnes of sugar that was declared unfit for consumption, the country’s director of public service said on Wednesday.
The shipment of sugar was imported into the country in 2018 and declared expired and “unfit for human consumption” by the Kenya Bureau of Certification (KEBS). It was to be converted into industrial ethanol.
Instead, it was “irregularly diverted and released outside of any procedure” in a “criminal” act, said the Director of Public Service, Felix Koskei, who is also President William Ruto’s chief of staff.
According to The Nation, the shipment of 20,000 bags of sugar, valued at more than 160 million shillings (€1.08 million), had been sold to a trader, who repackaged and resold it.
“It is clear that some officials in the agencies concerned have abdicated their responsibilities, risking public embarrassment,” Mr Koskei said, announcing their suspension pending investigations.
Among the officials sanctioned are officials from KEBS, including its head Bernard Njiraini, the tax authority, the police, and the Food and Agriculture Agency.
Kenya is experiencing a sharp rise in the cost of living, especially for food.
The retail price of sugar has just risen by about 30% in a month to over 200 shillings (about €1.30) a kilogram, according to local media.
The government is considering introducing a new tax on locally produced sugar, among other things, as part of a new finance bill aimed at increasing its tax revenues.