Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria has said the ship ferrying cheap cooking oil imports, the only item pending under the government food distribution programme, will dock in the next two days.
The cargo is due at a time when the Law Society of Kenya has taken the State to court over the import of 125,000 tonnes of cooking oil duty-free, claiming the decision will be detrimental to local manufacturers.
“The ship should be docking in the coming days as it is currently in the high seas,” Mr Kuria told the Business Daily on Thursday.
He said they are waiting to see the outcome of the litigation but said distribution of the oil will continue as planned.
“Yes there is a court case and we are waiting to see how the matter will be ruled, but the process of distributing cheap food has already started,” said the CS.
The LSK says in the case filed at the High Court that the decision allowing Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) to import the edible oil, duty-free for one year, will drive local manufacturers out of business since their products will not get the same tax treatment.
The move, according to LSK, also takes away the elements of fairness, reasonableness, neutrality, and proportionality in taxation since duty-free importation only applies to KNTC.
High Court judge John Chigiti certified the case as urgent and directed LSK to serve the court papers to the Attorney-General, PSs in the ministries of Trade, investment and Industry, the Treasury, and KNTC.
KNTC has so far received rice and beans supplies.
KNTC has been allowed to import 150,000 tonnes of rice, 80,000 tonnes of beans, 200,000 tonnes of sugar and 25,000 tonnes of wheat, and 125,000 tonnes of cooking oil to ease the current runaway cost of basic commodities.
The corporation has mapped shops across the country targeting low-income areas with 100,000 kiosks earmarked as the beneficiaries of this programme.