Sugarcane farmers in Kenya would have been the most affected by sugar imports. [Photo/]

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The high court has temporarily suspended a gazette notice No.9801 dated September 29, that extended the importation of duty-free sugar to December.

The conservatory order was issued by Justice Enoch Chacha Mwita after activist Okiya Omtata, sued Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich for extending the importation of duty-free sugar from September to December.

Okiyah Omtatah, in his suit, claimed that the Gazette notice published on October 4 was imposed arbitrarily without public participation of the local sugar industry.

In his suit, he argued that there was no sugar shortage to warrant such a decision and local sugar millers were licensed to produce sugar from locally grown cane. Importation of duty-free sugar would be problematic to an already ailing local sugar jeopardizing the livelihoods of cane farmers and workers in factories across the country.

To beat the August 31 deadline set for importation duty-free sugar, millers and traders imported 300,000 tonnes in the month of August alone. The country consumes almost  50,000 tonnes of sugar monthly.

The Gazette notice was in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act that only allows the Treasury cabinet secretary, to waive a national tax, a fee or charge imposed by the National Government and its entities by an act of Parliament.

The Gazette notice, Omtatah states,  did not set a limit for the quantities of sugar to be imported duty-free giving an avenue for misuse by unscrupulous millers and traders for the detriment of the cane farmers and workers.