A section of Members of Parliament have questioned the delayed presentation of a committee report on the controversial agreement between the government and the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited.
This was during the plenary sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa.
Last week, the chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Trade, Mwine Mpaka indicated that they had finalized a report on the agreement following several meetings with the concerned parties.
Mpaka indicated that he was waiting to be allocated space on the Order Paper to present the committee findings and recommendations.
The Deputy Speaker informed MPs that Anita Among had received the report by the committee and needed to first read through it before it is finally presented to the whole House.
On Thursday, Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda asked why it was taking long for the report to be debated yet the committee concluded its work already.
Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo Woman MP also told parliament that their constituents were accusing them of taking bribes to influence the outcome of the committee report.
However, Tayebwa assured MPs that the report was presented before the Clerk to Parliament and would be debated.
According to the agreement, the government gave Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited free land in the Industrial and Business Park at Namanve measuring 27 acres after indicating its capability to establish a coffee processing facility in Kampala.
The agreement also gives the company exclusive rights to buy all of Uganda’s coffee and its concession will end in 2032 but is subject to renewal.
The agreement also exempts the Vinci Coffee Company from paying Income tax, Pay As You Earn, Excise duty, and remitting NSSF contributions. The document also provides a 5 percent subsidy on electricity for the company.
However, a number of people involved in the coffee business including farmers, exporters, processors and opposition legislators have contested the agreement and described it as a bad deal.
The Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Abed Bwanika, says the agreement contravenes the Constitution and Section 52 of the National Coffee Act, 2012, which mandates the Uganda Coffee Development Authority to determine coffee prices.
But, Attorney General Kiwanuka Kiroywa and Finance Minister Matia Kasaija defended the coffee contract and the Attorney General told the committee that it was legal and binding.
“I checked the company’s legal standing and I was convinced that the company has proper legal standings in Uganda and therefore the contract has no breach of any provisions of the law. So I confirm that I carried out legal due diligence on the company and I am convinced it is in compliance with the provisions and any of the laws,” Kiwanuka said.