The National Treasury has opened a three-month duty-free window for sugar importation into the country.
This was made known in a special gazette notice dated October 4, where the Treasury announced the window was created to plug the country’s sugar deficit. It will close on December 31.
“Duty shall not be payable to sugar which will be loaded onto vessels between 1st September 2017 and 31st December 2017, destined to a port in Kenya and consigned to a local sugar miller,” said Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich in the notice.
The sugar importation notice, however, said the window will only be open to sugar millers and not businessmen, with private millers expected to flex their financial muscle, growing sales faster than struggling state-owned millers.
The move to wave duty by the Treasury is seen as a response to the acute drought at the start of the year that affected sugarcane production.
Kenya consumes 870,000 tons of sugar against a production of 600,000 tons per year.
This is not the first time a waiver has been put on sugar importation. The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) had waived duty on sugar imports until August 31 as sugar prices crossed the KSh200 per kilogram mark.
Between the months of January and July, an estimated 245,168 tons of sugar was imported into Kenya.
In May, the AFA indicated the country was set to import an additional 150,000 tons of sugar to cover the deficit due to drought.
The protection of local sugar millers was, however, made a priority as the deficit was met with sugar imported mainly from the COMESA region under strict quotas.
Local millers will now be up against the odds with cheap imports as this is expected to be the highest level of sugar imported into the country.