Kenya: Criminal Election Fund Raising Exposed

Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) has blown the whistle over illegal importation of sugar offloaded at the port of Mombasa last week out of which the government lost $20 million in taxes.
Immediately the Sugar Board announced the multi-million-dollar illegal importation, parliamentarians from cane growing zones issued a statement in which they accused unnamed political colleagues of colluding with sugar barons to import the commodity and flood the Kenyan market in a bid to raise funds for elections next year.
The parliamentarians called on the government to hold the sugar until the requisite taxes are paid. Sugar industry sources say the sugar was imported from Brazil and Thailand.
However, the sugar has been branded Egyptian produce in order to enter the Kenyan market duty free as a product originating from a fellow Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) country. Sources say the sugar is shipped to Egyptian ports where documents of origin are falsified then trans-shipped to Kenya.
Indeed, Egyptian Sugar Integrated Industries, the state corporation which handles sugar exports from Egypt, confirmed, to the Kenya Sugar Board, that falsified documents were used to show the imports were from there. The matter has been reported to the Egyptian ministry of Trade and more details are awaited from them.
Sources at the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC), in Nairobi say the sugar consignment is just a tip of an iceberg atop a mammoth matrix of criminal election fund-raising involving a wide range of commodities and commercial products. They say Kenyans will also see an increase in illicit trade including drugs and human trafficking.
The KACC director, Patrick Lumumba, is on record as saying cases of corruption shoot up in Kenya every 18 months before the general elections for the purposes of fund raising. Documented cases in the past indicate that besides illegal imports, questionable deals are cut which include tender and contract awards as well as dubious procurements and sales of public assets.
As the clock ticks towards the elections, set for August 2012 by the new constitution, flood gates will open for illegal importation of essential commodities such as sugar, maize, wheat, rice along with other quick-sale electronic products, automobiles and household goods. Most of the importers will try to evade duty and other taxes by hook or crook.
Even without elections, Kenya has been a victim of massive import duty evasion and a favorite destination for contraband and counterfeit goods. Recent crackdown by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has yielded tons upon tons of contraband and counterfeit goods all the way from the port of Mombasa to the remotest of villages in rural Kenya.
With the election approaching, senior KRA officials say they will be on full alert to net unscrupulous racketeers and crack down on import cartels out to make hay while the sun shines. However, efforts by both the KRA and the Anticorruption Commission are greatly hampered by endemic corruption that seems to be always capable of successfully wading through the country’s judicial system without being adequately punished.
As matters stand, corruption has grown into a multi-billion-dollar business in Kenya affecting not only commodity imports but also lucrative contracts in public projects. Corruption affects negatively on the economic life of the country and remains a matter of great concern to not only Kenyans but the international community as well.

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