Legislators sitting on the Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism are concerned that the Minister for Trade Francis Mwebesa usurped the powers of the Uganda Investment Authority and started issuing licenses to new sugar mills to operate.
The Committee also observed that even with the absence of the sugar board, the Minister had no powers to issue operating certificates to the new sugar mills in a discriminative way.
The officials from the Ministry of Trade led by the State Minister for Cooperatives Ngobi Gume and those from the office of the Attorney General led by the Deputy Attorney General Jackson Kafuzi appeared before the Trade Committee to respond to the petition on the newly licensed sugar mills in Buganda and Busoga sub-regions.
In the Committee, the legislators started by tasking the officials to explain the circumstances under which the Minister for Trade Francis Mwebesa started issuing licenses to the new sugar mills a mandate of the Uganda Investment Authority.
The issue of issuing licenses to the new sugar mills in a discriminative way generated a serious debate in the Committee. To Mps out of the over 28 sugar mills that applied for the licenses the last 7 were granted licences with the applicants questioning the modalities in issuing them
But to Deputy Attorney General Jackson Kafuzi, the issuance of licenses to the new sugar mills was erroneously done but promising to have the matter rectified as the Country cannot lose resources invested in the Country by the Investors.
The committee also faulted the Ministry for failing to establish a sugar board as proposed by the Sugar Act of 2020.
The Ministry of Trade is also stuck with some of the sugar factories that were issued licences for 10 years back but have not been operational according to the State Minister for Coperatives Fred Ngobi Gume.
Gume now says they are planning to seek legal advice from the Attorney General on whether such licenses can be revoked.
The Committee is set to meet other stakeholders to give their input on the petition.