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Gov’t Reviewing Controversial Coffee Deal With Italian ‘Investor’- Kasaija

The Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija (pictured) has revealed that Government is currently reviewing the controversial coffee  agreement with  Italian ‘investor’, Enrica Pinetti.

This follows public criticism of the controversial US$80 Million coffee deal.

Kasaija’s revelation was in response to a question posed by Mbale Industrial Division MP, Karim Masaba, who tasked Kasaija to explain why local farmers weren’t given priority in this coffee value addition deal in preference to a foreign investor. He was appearing before Parliament’s Finance Committee.

Masaba said that his people in Bugisu region who are ardent growers of coffee aren’t happy with the contract signed, warning that if no efforts are made to negotiate a better deal, the coffee farmers will be left to grapple with monopoly like the one witnessed in the oil sector where major players are accused of hoarding fuel leading to a crisis of sorts.

“From the basic economics, you know the dangers of a monopoly. When I look at the agreement you signed, the person you signed with signed as a witness, not as a person signing on behalf of the company,” Masaba said.

He added: “If you want to help our people get out of poverty, why don’t you put all this money and incentives into cooperatives? We have Bugisu Cooperative Union, how are you helping it? Why don’t you help our people instead of putting all our money on foreigners?”

In response, Kasaija pleaded with the Committee to give his Ministry more time to analyse the agreement he signed.

“Why don’t you give us a chance we come back to parliament? We are now working on analyzing (the agreement), I think we are supposed to make a statement, so give us a chance we shall come back and clear the air. When all facts have been put together somebody at the Ministry is doing that, we shall come back and tell you the real truth,” Kasaija said.

It should be recalled that on 10th February 2022, Ministry of Finance represented by Minister Kasaija and Permanent Secretary Ramathan Ggoobi signed an earlier amended agreement signed on 29th April 2015 and the accompanying addenda signed on 21 December 2015 and 17 October 2017.

 

In the controversial agreement, Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited under the proprietorship of Enrica Pinetti was handed the monopoly over the purchase and export of coffee from Ugandan farmers, which powers would see the company with the sole decision to determine the price of coffee.

Further, Pinetti was also given a 10 year tax holiday including paying import duties, value-added taxes, excise duty, stamp duty and corporate income tax, and for mandatory taxes that the company can’t avoid, these will be borne by Ugandan taxpayers.

It is worth noting that Pinetti is the same ‘investor’ behind the multi-million dollar construction of the Lubowa International Specialised Hospital.

Ministry of Finance gave her promissory notes to a tune of US$379 million (about Shs1.4Trn) and has already been advanced Shs348Bn but no tangible works have taken place at the construction site in Lubowa.

 

 

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