KAMPALA-UGANDA/NEWSDAY: Buganda kingdom premier, Charles Peter Mayiga has joined an avalanche of critics condemning the controversial coffee agreement that the government recently signed with Italian investor, Enrica Pinetti.
The agreement grants Pinetti’s company, Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCC) exclusive rights to process and export all of Uganda’s coffee for the next 10 years while at the same time exempting it from paying taxes on top other incentives including money for utility infrastructure.
The deal signed clandestinely without the involvement of other stakeholders has attracted nationwide condemnation – most especially since it was handed over to the same investor who has failed to complete the construction of Lubowa Specialised Hospital despite receiving promissory notes to a tune of $379.7m. Pinetti has now reportedly already received half of the additional Shs 667.8bn for the coffee project.
The line minister of Agriculture, Frank Tumwebaze has since distanced himself and the ministry from the agreement, saying he knew nothing about it. The deal gives UVVCCL to determine the coffee prices.
The permanent secretary ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ramathan Ggoobi has defended the deal, saying that the company will buy the coffee at a premium price, the first pricing system in Uganda. But Mayiga said government ought to have included all stakeholders.
Mayiga also said that the government must recognize the role of the kingdom in coffee development and as a key stakeholder. In 2016, Mayiga inaugurated the kingdom’s “Emwanyi Terimba” campaign after forming a partnership with Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) to boost coffee growth in Buganda region.
Under the partnership, UCDA provides seedlings and technical support to the kingdom’s Buganda Cultural and Development Foundation (BUCADEF).
Mayiga said since the campaign, coffee growing has increased by 35 per cent. He also revealed that the Buganda region contributed 30 per cent of the total coffee exported from Uganda.
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