Gov’t dragged to court over controversial coffee deal

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The Ugandan government has been dragged to court over the controversial coffee deal that it signed with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd (UVCC).

In a suit filed before the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala on Monday, two advocates including Henry Byansi and Michael Aboneka say the deal between government and UVCC is in bad taste and ought to be reviewed.

“As a coffee farmer, I know the sector is composed of small scale traders and farmers, middlemen, small and large scale exporters , development partners, farmer association and unions. All the above have a right to be consulted as stakeholders before introducing a new policy but this was not done,”Byansi who says he has a small scale farm located in Luuka says in his affidavit.

He argues that it was wrong for government not to consult the Solicitor General, Ministry of Agriculture, Uganda Coffee Development Authority and other related agencies before signing the coffee deal.

“Failure to seek requisite approval and recommendation from URA, relevant local authorities under the Local Governments Act 2008 before purporting to make tax waivers in favour of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd.”

The two lawyers say waiving all taxes by government on the coffee company is illegal.

“Purporting to impose on the government of the Republic of Uganda and its obligations the obligation to bear the taxes borne by Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd is illegal.”

The petitioners also say government failed to comply with the provisions of the National Coffee Policy 2013 and the  National Coffee Act 2021 which impose a duty on government through its agencies to ensure that the coffee subsector is operated under a competitive and liberalized market environment.

Declarations

The two petitioners have asked court to declare that actions of the Ministry of Finance of secretly handpicking Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd at the detriment of other able Ugandan firms to manage production, export, selling and setting prices of coffee beans and related products is illegal.

“The petitioners seek a declaration that the actions of Ministry of Finance  of giving priority to Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd to supply coffee has far the overarching consequence of creating a monopoly. “

The two advocates also want court to declare that failure by the Finance Ministry to follow all legal and administrative processes and making adequate consultation with relevant agencies and stakeholders before executing the coffee deal was abuse and usurpation of powers and as such the same was illegal, null and void.

They say the coffee deal was signed illegally and therefore should be reviewed.

The Attorney General and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd have been listed as respondents.

 

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