MPs want BBI to address guarantee minimum return for farmers

Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report
Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report

By: Samuel Kimani  @MountKenyaTimes

President Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Party leader Hon Raila Odinga are facing tough time to see Building bridges initiative report sail through.

They duo have been holding meetings with leaders in a bid to reach consensus on some issues in the report.

Last week, the pastoralist community held a meeting in what they alleged there community issues were not captured well in the document.

On Monday, they went ahead to have an audience with Raila who assured them that their concerns would be addressed.

“The issues will be taken on board. The technical team will sit down and look at them,” he assured.

In a quick rejoinder on Twitter, Ruto said the petition by pastoralists that covers several areas in BBI was progressive.

“The public commitment to amend BBI to include these proposals is a welcome step towards consensus,” he said.

Ruto added: “With this and other petitions accepted, a non-contested discourse is in the horizon.”

Yesterday, a section of Members of Parliament from agriculture regions said they want assurance that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) will provide for a minimum guarantee return fund for farmers.

The lawmakers want a clause in the final report to include the fund that constitutes five percent of nationally generated revenue singly dedicated to agriculture business stabilization.

The crops that they want covered include tea, coffee, milk, green grams, macadamia, miraa, sugarcane, cotton, rice, fruits, pyrethrum, potatoes maize, beans and coconut.

Speaking to press at Parliament building, Tharaka MP George Gitonga Murugara noted that the fund will ensure that each crop is independently guaranteed of their share dependent on their market share.

Mr. Murugura said the fund should be used to cater for a national fertilizer subsidy program for farmers as well fund agricultural research and extension services.

He noted that farmers need to be motivated by assuring them of an annual guarantee minimum return on all their produce.

He fund, he said will be used to stabilize each of listed crops and farm produce whenever the market price return lower than expected price of commodity.

The MPs Urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to publicize implementation framework of BBI process and faulted politicization of the process which, they say, locks out many Kenyans and stakeholders whose voices are not heard.

“A Constitutional amendment is a sacred national duty that should be divorced from the whims of party and partisan politics, all stakeholders response to the BBI report must be listened and sufficiently addressed, we condemn greedy voices who are keen on locking other Kenyans from this process,” Murugara said.

Uhuru urged to form BBI secretariat to collect new recommendations

President Uhuru Kenyatta has been urged to form another secretariat that will collect the emerging recommendations to the BBI report.

Addressing journalists yesterday, Nandi County Senator Samson Cherargei said that presenting issues to ODM leader Raila Odinga is not a guarantee that they will be featured in the final report.

“These groups, that have made their proposals to amend the BBI report, where do they take it?” Cheraragei asked.

“In our opinion, we want to ask the President to move with speed and form a BBI secretariat team. We do not want to be like an elitist forum. Presenting to the ODM leader does not meet the capacity in terms of handling these recommendations.”

The Senator who spoke at Parliament Building said a structured BBI secretariat is needed to handle emerging issues from all sectors and classes of people in terms of their work.

Mr. Cheraragei said that the amendment to the Constitution should involve all the people and should not be politicised.

“I am happy that it has been reopened. Some of the leaders even in Parliament had dared us that even a comma or a full stop will not be edited…now let us now have a structured secretariat and experts and also structured engagements.”he said.

Raila says only editorial will be worked on in BBI

On Monday, ODM party leader Raila Odinga indicated crucial steps that would culminate in the review of the BBI report to reduce antagonism and avert a referendum showdown.

It was reported that Raila had yielded to the growing calls by disgruntled groups and opened up the BBI report for amendments.

However Raila on Tuesday seemed to have changed tune when he said there is little likelihood that new ideas will be pushed into the BBI report

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila initially announced that the window for amendments was closed despite many voices demanding changes.

But via a tweet on Tuesday, Raila said there is significantly little chance of significant new ideas being brought into the BBI document ahead of the referendum.

“…except for editorial work to make it explicit on demands by various groups where it sounds vague or general, as is the case with the issues of pastoralists,” he said on Tuesday.

“It is basically done. However, there are groups that feel their views were not captured in the manner they were presented during the collection of views and those are the corrections we are promising to make.”

However, a proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill would have to go through the laid out process including public participation and amendments.

This can be introduced in either of the Houses of Parliament. If both houses pass the Bill, the President is to assent to it if it relates to matters that do not require a referendum.

If either of the Houses of Parliament fails to pass it or there are matters relating to Article 255(1) then the Bill is subjected to a referendum.

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