The Mbarara city south MP Mwine Mpaka chaired the parliamentary committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry on Wednesday, 27 April 2022. The committee sat to hear the case in which a coffee deal was struck under unfair and illegal terms.
During the sitting, the Attorney General told the committee that the contract is legal and binding.
He said he checked the company’s legal standing and he felt convinced that it has proper legal standings with Uganda. Therefore, he said the contract has no breach of any provisions of the law.
Kalungu West County MP Joseph Ssewungu triggered this response after he demanded the Attorney General confirms that the contract is favorable for the people of Uganda.
Minister Kasaija signed this deal on behalf of the government on 10th February 2022 with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCC) owned by an Italian investor. Consequently, the deal gave UVCC rights to buy Uganda’s coffee for processing. The deal also came with other incentives and concessions extended to the same coffee company.
MP Kasaija, the minister of finance allayed MPs’ fears that the contract only favors the company at the local farmers’ expense. He insisted that they would also benefit from the deal.
“This agreement does not deter other potential investors from investing in value addition. UVCC provides an opportunity for the country to fetch better prices for high-grade coffee. The company aims to establish several hubs across the country intended to enhance traceability of farmers and to eliminate middlemen,” Kasaija said.
Many MPs questioned why the government does not consult well before ever signing any deals. Some expressed distaste for the coffee agreement.
Francis Atoke, the Solicitor General refuted allegations that he said he had never seen or heard anything about UVCC. He also said the comments on the media were exaggerated.
“I cannot do anything without the authorization of the Attorney General. Why would I talk about something I had no consent to talk about? This doesn’t mean that the deal is illegal or wrong in any way,” he said.
The committee is still skeptical about the coffee deal as some documents are still missing.
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