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The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament -LOP, Mathias Mpuuga, has questioned the planned move by members of Parliament’s Trade Committee to present the report on the controversial coffee agreement to State House on Friday.
The Leader of the Opposition (LOP) in Parliament,
Mathias Mpuuga has questioned the planned move by members of Parliament’s Trade
Committee to present the report
on the controversial coffee agreement to State House on Friday.
Mpuuga raised the issue
as a procedural matter during the Thursday plenary sitting chaired by Deputy
Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa.
“I am getting information from some of my Members
that they have been directed, to go and present that report to State
House tomorrow, and I am seeking your indulgence whether you have instructed your committee
to go and present that report to State House but not Parliament?” Mpuuga enquired.
This follows several demands by a section of MPs for
the report on the controversial
agreement between the government and the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited to
be allocated space on the order paper, presented to parliament and debated. The
demands started last week after the Committee Chairperson, Mwine Mpaka indicated
that the report was ready.
In response to the
demands, Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among on Tuesday this week cautioned
legislators against making reckless statements in regard to the committee
report. She assured the House that the leadership of Parliament was not
suffocating the report, and that this would be presented and debated soon.
Now, one day after
her communication to the House, LOP Mpuuga revealed to parliament about a
planned meeting at State House involving the Committee about the report. He
wondered how a Parliament report could be discussed outside the House before a
formal presentation and a debate happens.
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Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker said that he was
not privy to any such meeting but hastened to add that any side in the House
can always consult their members. Tayebwa however noted that he was going to
inquire from the leadership of the committee and its members in order to guide
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Maurice Kibalya, the Bugabula South MP also raised a
procedural issue questioning why the report had not yet been uploaded on the Parliament
system by the Clerk to Parliament for the MPs to access it. He also confirmed
that members of the Trade Committee were carrying out Covid-19 tests in
preparation for the Friday meeting at State House.
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Tayebwa said that the report would be uploaded and
also discussed in the House.
According to the controversial
coffee 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 capacity to establish a coffee processing facility in Kampala.
The agreement also gives the company priority rights to buy 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 agreement 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 agreement. The Attorney General told
the committee that it was legal and binding.
Uganda Radio Network,
URN has since learnt that the committee report recommends the cancellation of
the agreement on grounds that it is unconstitutional and violates different
legal provisions. The committee wants fresh negotiations of the agreement after
the cancellation is made and a report presented to parliament within six