A section of opposition Members of Parliament have today called for the termination of the new coffee export agreement, that Uganda signed with Vinci Coffee Company Limited, citing lack of legality.
The agreement was recently signed between the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development on behalf of the Government of Uganda and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited.
It has now raised eyebrows within the coffee sub-sector, that MPs with in coffee growing areas want it terminated.
On Tuesday, a group of MPs led by the Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Dr Abed Bwanika (Kimaanya – Kabonera Division) challenged the legality of the agreement, since it was entered into without the involvement of Parliament and the Attorney General.
Bwanika argued that the act of ratifying the agreement without the approval of parliament is an attempt to hijack the powers of the legislative body, by illegally assuming the authority to regulate coffee prices.
“By so doing, that means that Vinci has powers to regulate coffee prices. We want to remind Ugandans that we operate a liberalized economy, and this agreement contravenes the constitution. The people of Uganda must be allowed the freedom to trade in coffee and any other commodities,” Bwanika said.
Richard Lumu, the parliamentary representative for Mityana South decried the whole process of ratifying the agreement, also arguing it was entered into without the approval by parliament, an indicator of contempt of the legislative body.
“This is a satanic agreement; what is in this agreement is usurping the powers of Parliament which is supposed to debate each concession or agreement where the Government of Uganda is going to commit Ugandans. This had been hidden,” said Lumu.
“If Vinci wanted to take the monopoly of coffee export, it would have complied with the PPDA Act. The Minister of Finance as a senior citizen should have known that an agreement of this nature should have been debated [and approved] by Parliament,” he added.
The agreement in question was signed on February 10th, 2022, amending an earlier agreement signed on April 29th, 2015 and the accompanying addenda signed on December 21st, 2015 and October 17th, 2017.
The amendment gives Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited a monopoly over the purchase and export of coffee from Ugandan farmers.
The company was also given a 10-year tax holiday as well as a subsidized power tariff of 5 cents per unit of power for 10 years. The MPs wondered why neither the Attorney General nor the Solicitor General was involved in the signing of the agreement.
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