Buganda Katikkiro (prime minister) Charles Peter Mayiga has taken a swipe at government over the controversial coffee processing agreement with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited, a private company to market and export Uganda’s coffee.
“Then came Vinci Coffee Company to buy and sell Ugandan coffee almost as a monopoly. Those who signed the agreement never consulted anyone but claim it is good. We all understand English and know how to interpret agreements, be it laws. Farmers were never consulted; neither dealers nor exporters were consulted. Buganda has a big stake in the coffee industry but why were we not consulted? How can the Ministry of Finance officials claim to know more about coffee than those of us who are on ground,” Mayiga questioned.
He was speaking during the Easter Sunday service at Lubaga Cathedral.
Government recently signed a deal with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited to establish a coffee processing plant at Namanve industrial park where Italian businesswoman Enrica Pinetti signed on behalf of the company.
Pinetti was involved in the deal for the constriction of Lubowa International Specialized Hospital but the same has since stalled.
The deal which ends in 2032 , subject to renewal, among others gave the Italian company, Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited , exclusive rights to buy all of Uganda’s coffee whereas it was also exempted from paying taxes including income tax, pay as you earn, Excise Duty, Stamp Duty, VAT, Import Duty and corporate income tax.
On the other side, the Ugandan government undertook to inject money into the company.
A number of people , especially stakeholders have since blasted government for not consulting them before such an undertaking.
Speaking on Sunday, Katikkiro Mayiga said in 2016, the Mengo establishment moved to encourage the subjects of the Kabaka to grow more coffee under a program named Emwanyi Terimba.
He said because of this program, coffee production in Buganda has gone up by 35% whereas the country’s coffee exports too have gone up and to this, Buganda accounts for more than 30%.
He noted that developments in the coffee sector in the recent years make him think some people want to force Ugandans out of the coffee business.
“The controversy in the coffee business challenges us. When we challenged the coffee bill, we were ridiculed. Then all of a sudden, Uganda Coffee Development Authority without consulting anyone pulled out of the International Coffee Organization (ICO) . When we questioned the move, we were again ridiculed. It appears some people want to frustrate Ugandans out coffee business and selling it abroad. Why don’t they first consult us,”Mayiga said.
He however said Ugandans will not be frustrated but will rather continue growing and exporting coffee as it has been throughout the years.
“Those with land should grow more coffee. Let the Catholic Church also grow coffee. However, Ugandans should also learn how to consume coffee locally. By consuming it locally, we will have done away with the saboteurs. Let us emulate Ethiopia where 65% of the coffee grown is consumed locally.”
Last week, the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, Ramathan Ggoobi defended the controversial coffee agreement that he said will benefit the country.
“The company will be responsible for financing the project and marketing its finished coffee products to the 40 billion dollar export market in Europe and Middle East which had not been penetrated. There is going to be provision of market to value added coffee and will benefit Ugandan coffee farmer.”