Speaker Muturi grants House team 7 more days to conclude fuel price probe

NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 5 – Speaker Justin Muturi on Tuesday granted the House Committee on Finance seven more days to conclude its probe on two petitions regarding the increase in prices of petroleum and petroleum products.

Committee Chairperson Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay County Woman Representative) said the request for the extension time will allow the team to consider new information it has received on how demurrage charges, fees levied by shipping lines to the importer affect the pricing of petroleum and in which component of the fuel pricing they are contained.

The 14-day deadline the Committee had been given to submit its report to the House would have lapsed on Wednesday.

“The Committee want to inquire into the matter of demurrages. Above all this, i wish to assure the entire August House, that the Committee is committed to dispensing its mandate with regard  to business referred to it promptly so as to hasten and facilitate the oversight role of this House as hasten in the constitution,” Wanga said.

Demurrage is the charge that is based on the time a ship takes to offload fuel at the Mombasa Port terminal for storage by Kenya Pipeline Company.

The House Speaker told MPs that he had received a draft Committee Report and was convinced that the additional information the Wanga-led team is seeking will greatly benefit debate in the future.

“You cannot provide on one hand that you will provide this levy for this purpose and then somehow, you go and put your fingers there and you remove some of the funds but where it goes nobody knows.

But I like the way the Committee has identified some of those fingers, so that you as a House can make a determination on what to do with those fingers. You may decide to cut them, isn’t it,” Muturi said as acceded to the Committee’s request.

The House team has met 10 stakeholders including the Principal Secretaries in the Ministries of National Treasury and Petroleum, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Private Sector Alliance and Petroleum Institute of East Africa among others.

MPs David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East), Patrick Musimba (Kibwezi West) and Robert Pukose (Endebess) supported the call but asked the Committee to ensure it addresses all the inefficiencies that have been raised by the members of the public.

Gikaria who chairs the Energy Committee informed the House that his team is also in the process of examining the Open Tender System (OTS) as well how the country does it’s business around the petroleum business.

Matungulu MP Stephen Mule, who petitioned Parliament to review the formula to give the citizens the reliefs, backed the call for more time.

“I agree with the committee and I believe it is for the good of the country to get a lasting solution,” he said.

Minority Whip Junet Mohammed (Suna East) and Aden Duale (Garissa Township) urged the Committee to do away with the fuel levy noting that some of the funds realized were diverted to other areas which were not previously known.

The Suna East MP questioned the need of retaining the price control measure citing it was introduced at a time when the country did not have many players in the industry.

“Let the market forces decide what kind of prices the market should use in terms of consumption of fuel. The government should not fix prices, the government should provide a conducive environment for doing business, otherwise why can’t they fix the price of food, why can’t they fix the price of maize flour to be Sh50 or Sh40?” Junet stated.

Duale opined that the Committee should ensure that Kenyans are cushioned from the escalating crude oil prices (internationally and locally)and that money is given to oil marketers so that they do not increase the fuel prices in our country.

“You cannot collect Sh5.40 per litre from the ordinary citizens with the objective of subsidizing but then the National Treasury goes and uses that money for other purposes,” said the former Majority Leader.

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