Treasury Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo on Tuesday disclosed the government’s plans to revive Uchumi Supermarkets.
Speaking before the National Assembly Committee on Finance and National Planning, the PS that earlier plans to resuscitate the former giant had been sabotaged by mismanagement.
He revealed that he had negotiated for the Treasury Cabinet Secretary’s approval for a loan but plans did not materialise.
Kiptoo also explained that the previous plans were met with some unplanned technical challenges.
National Treasury Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo.
The National Treasury & Economic Planning
The PS however emphasized that new plans were being put in place to implement the turnaround.
“I admit that we have not acted as government should, on this matter. This is largely because we do not have representation on the Board. I will however meet with Uchumi to ensure that we get the most optimal value for money”, he remarked.
The PS was responding to questions from Nandi Hills Member of Parliament Bernard Kitur who asked the government to boost the supermarket chain’s turnaround for it to offer jobs to Kenyans and businesses for suppliers.
“PS, all that your State Department needs to do is to engage Uchumi supermarkets and see how to boost their turnaround efforts. They do not even require exchequer funding,” the MP stated.
Notably, the government through the National Treasury owns stakes in the chain of supermarkets.
Meanwhile, the MPs sought to understand the delays in the sale of a section of land belonging to the supermarkets.
The land was being sold to a foreign bank that is also a creditor of Uchumi Supermarkets.
The bank sought to recover Ksh163 million owed by the supermarket. Uchumi had offered the land as collateral when it sought a loan earlier.
However, the MPs were concerned as to why the Treasury did not clear the loan.
“Why should one creditor who is owed about 10 per cent of the total value of the land be the one seeking the enforcement of the sale to recover their loan? Would it be more prudent to pay them off and halt the sale and have the government keep the land in the public interest,” Karachonyo MP Adipo Okuome questioned.
The chain of supermarkets collapsed in 2009 due to several reasons including poor management. A few stores however remain open particularly within Nairobi.
A photo of one of Uchumi Supermarkets