Azimio, Kenya Kwanza MPs in blame over fuel shortage 

Written by on 6 April 2022

Senators allied to the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya camp and their counterparts from the Kenya Kwanza Alliance yesterday clashed over the ongoing fuel crisis.

The exchange came after the pro-Kenya Kwanza senators accused the government of embezzling Sh34 billion in fuel subsidies.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata had moved the House to adjourn yesterday’s sitting to discuss the fuel shortage crisis in the country.

“The fuel shortage has been occasioned by the government’s failure to pay a subsidy to the oil marketers. We all know there is a government programme where it sets aside amounts of money to pay oil marketers to ensure that Kenyans don’t pay huge amounts for various products,” he argued.

He went on: “The market has been complaining they have not been paid the accruing subsidy. As a result, the oil marketers are unable to sell petroleum products and fuel products at the current rates, which have been set by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority”.

“Some people suspect that the fuel subsidy programme was used for BBI. We want the relevant government entities to clarify and confirm to Kenyans that the fuel subsidy money, which is billions of shillings, was not used for BBI purposes,” he added.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula supported Kang’ata’s claims, terming the current administration an “uncaring government that has remained mute and maintained a conspiracy of silence” as fuel prices skyrocket to unprecedented levels.

“The government engaged Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and undertook to give them a subsidy. The amount of money owed to oil marketers in this country is in excess of Sh34 billion. What exactly happened?” Wetangula posed.

“I am attempting to ask, is this the money that was used on a misadventure called BBI? Is this the money that is being used to fund politically correct activities in the country? Or is this money that has been outright stolen?” he went on.

But the pro-Azimio la Umoja senators shot back, accusing their counterparts of seeking political mileage from the fuel crisis. Standing on a point of order, Deputy Majority leader and Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo challenged Wetangula to provide evidence to prove his allegations that Sh34 billion owed to oil marketers was used to finance the collapsed BBI and its campaign.

“Can you provide evidence? It is not guesswork. Senator Wetangula kindly provides evidence to that effect,” Dullo charged.

Russian invasion

Sharing Wetangula’s sentiments, nominated Senator Petronilla Were said Kenyans need a government that listens to the people and not one that blames every crisis on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On his part, Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko warned that Wetangula’s insinuation that the Sh34 billion subsidy was diverted to fund BBI could degenerate into a disorderly House.

The fierce battle forced the session chairperson Nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga to step in and urge senators to desist from making utterances that could inflame the situation.

But Wetangula challenged “those who purport to speak for the government on the floor” to tell the country where the Sh34 billion disappeared only to resurface in a supplementary budget.

Ayacko, however, maintained that the fuel crisis should not be politicised.

“All of us in this House and in the other House are responsible for the high fuel costs. We passed the bill which became a law that raised fuel costs. We were persuaded that the passage of such a Bill was because we needed to raise more revenue. So, we have done that and we must take responsibility,” said Ayacko.

“And the leader of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance, Deputy President William Ruto, said it was a good move at the time and must equally take that responsibility,” added Ayacko.

The matter spilled over to the National Assembly with Garissa Township MP Adan Duale asking the Treasury to provide the total amount of money collected under the Fuel Levy Fund from September 2021 to date, in the wake of the current crisis facing the petroleum sector.

Duale also wants the government to provide a breakdown of reimbursement of fuel levy fund per month from September 2021 to date and reimbursement due to be paid to the Oil Marketing Companies (OMC), petroleum dealers, and small oil dealers.

Duale in a statement asked the Petroleum and Mining Cabinet Secretary to provide the total number of registered OMCs, petroleum dealers, and small oil dealers, their network distribution across the country, and percentage shares of the market in the country. “Could the CS explain the measures put in place by the government to curb the fuel crisis in the country and also ensure that Kenyans are not subjected to similar problems in future?” posed Duale.

The debate was, however, halted as Speaker Justin Muturi indicated the House had run out of time.

Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) increased the pump prices of petrol and diesel by Sh5 per litre, the government maintained the margins of oil companies at zero meaning that no profits were drawn by the dealers.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa also railed at the government saying the shortage was avoidable: “We must be truthful and honest to the people to tell them the cause of the problem we are in today- is because of failure by the government and misuse and misappropriation of the fund.” 

However Funyula MP Wilberforce Oudo faulted the National Assembly of passing the tax hikes and pretending to be holier than thou: “The cause of the increased fuel prices is because of several taxes that this house introduced a while back.” 

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