Miraa traders want disbursement of funds to taskforce stopped

Miraa traders have moved to court seeking to stop the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary from disbursing any monies to the taskforce set up to oversee development of the said produce.

In a suit filed against the CS, the taskforce on development of Miraa industry and the Attorney General, the Nyambene Miraa traders association claimed that their rights would be violated if the court does not heed to their request.

Through lawyer Robin Mwenda, they accused the taskforce of failing to achieve its intended purpose hence fear that it is misusing public funds for its sittings long after the expiry of its set term.

The said task force was set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta through a June 13 gazette notice for a three-month term and was meant to recover lost markets, search for new ones for the Miraa produce as well as submit a report within 14 days after that period.

The association claimed that the taskforce’s term expired on September 14 yet it is still carrying out public hearings and sittings using tax payers’ money besides failing to submit its report.

“Despite the fact that the members of the taskforce have been drawing salaries and allowances from the exchequer, it has not submitted its report as per its terms of reference hence defeated the purpose for which it was formed,” Mr Mwenda said.

The taskforce was formed after the governments of Netherlands and the United Kingdom banned miraa imports from Kenya in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

The ban consequently led to the loss of lucrative markets for the produce and occasioned damage on trade opportunities for members of the association.

President Kenyatta announced on April that his government will allocate Sh1 billion to the Miraa industry to cushion farmers and traders from the shock of the international ban.

The said monies were to be availed through the CS to the Secretariat of the taskforce.

According to the association’s treasurer Joseph Munjuri, any extension of term has to be prescribed by the President.

“I have perused through all editions of the gazette notice to date and I have not encountered any extension of the duration that the taskforce is mandated to operate hence its continued sittings are a violation of the law,” Mr Munjuri said.

The miraa traders, therefore, want an order compelling the taskforce to submit its report, it should be stopped form holding further public hearings or sittings and that the CS be stopped from disbursing any monies to the embattled body.

High Court judge George Odunga will issue directions in the case on December 13.

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