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We Are Not Suffocating the Coffee Agreement Report – Speaker

While delivering her communication during the plenary on Tuesday, Among assured the House that the leadership of Parliament was not suffocating the report, saying it would be presented and debated soon.
Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among.

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The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among has cautioned legislators against making reckless statements in regard to a committee report on the controversial agreement between the government and the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited.  

While delivering her communication during the plenary on Tuesday, Among assured the House that the leadership of Parliament was not suffocating the report, saying it would be presented and debated soon.

“I have heard a lot of sentiments from my members, even from the public about the coffee report. I want to assure you members of this House…the report is ready and the report will be presented to this House. Nobody should imagine that we are suffocating the report, we are here for the people out there,” said Among.

She added that it is an indictment on the MPs when they go about accusing the presiding officer in regards to the report.

//Cue in: “when we are…

Cue out:…country look better,”//

Among also urged Cabinet Ministers to accept mistakes pointed out by Parliament and work towards correcting them.

//Cue in: “and where there…

Cue out:…will debate it.”//

Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the Kira Municipality and his Busia Municipality counterpart, Geoffrey Macho accused the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija of discussing the coffee agreement on different media platforms even before parliament receives a report and takes action. Ssemujju also told the Speaker that they are under pressure from the public to have the report tabled in the house.

//Cue in: “you will forgive…

Cue out:…the front bench.”//

John Baptist Nambeshe, the Chief Opposition Whip asked the Speaker to indicate to the House the specific day when the coffee report will be presented so that MPs prepare for debate accordingly.  

//Cue in: “this coffee deal…

Cue out:…report Madam Speaker.”//

In response, Among said that making the Order Paper is the preserve of the presiding officer and the commitment she can give is that the report was going to be discussed. “Don’t cry more than the bereaved, because maybe some of us are more bereaved than you are…we are coffee growers,” Among added.

Mwine Mpaka, the chairperson of the Trade Committee of parliament indicated that they had finalized the report on the agreement following several meetings with the concerned parties, adding that he was waiting to be allocated space on the Order Paper to present their findings and recommendations.

Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa told MPs last week that the presiding officer had received the report by the committee and needed to first read through it before it is finally presented to the whole House. 

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 capacity 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 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 months. 

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